Ford Settles Reverse Racial Discrimination Suit

March 28, 2002 ( - Hit in recent months with a handful of employee discrimination claims, Ford Motor Co. has settled one of the diversity lawsuits that charged it systematically discriminated against white males.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to a Reuters news report.

The plaintiff was John Kovacs, a white former Ford Credit division manager. In his suit, filed last June in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit, Kovacs, 36, claimed he had been discriminated against since starting with Ford in 1993 (see Managers Sue Ford For Reverse Discrimination ).

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Although Ford has defended its personnel policies, court documents showed that Ford had a formal policy of increasing its minority and female population, while trimming the number of white males, Reuters said.

Kovacs alleged that he was passed over repeatedly for promotion because of Ford’s diversity initiative. And he claims he was demoted — from a human resources position at Ford Credit to a job as library archivist — in a revenge move for his discrimination complaints.

No Admission

None of the recent discrimination cases against Ford has gone to trial, and a Michigan judge earlier this month approved a multimillion-dollar settlement of a lawsuit accusing Ford of bias against older workers. (See  Judge OKs $10.5 M Ford Settlement )

In settling the cases, the company admitted no wrongdoing, but Ford has managed to keep some unsavory allegations out of the public spotlight by settling out of court.

Kovacs quoted former Chief Executive Officer Jacques Nasser as bluntly explaining in a videotaped address to top executives at a training seminar that diversity was necessary so that Ford’s work force would better reflect its customer base. “I do not like the sea of white faces in the audience,” Nasser was quoted as saying.

Separately, Kovacs’s complaint quotes Nasser as saying at a Ford human resources conference: “We have too many middle-aged white Anglo-Saxon males, and that needs to change.”