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Woman wins suit against Hyundai plant
May 05, 2009 (Montgomery Advertiser)
A federal jury in Montgomery awarded a former Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama
employee almost $6 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The jury agreed that Hyundai and one of its supervisors, Mike Swindle, harassed Tammy
Edwards in 2006, then retaliated against her when she reported the harassment.
Alicia Haynes, who represented Edwards, said the verdict shows that companies need to have
safeguards against harassment and to make sure they are followed.
According to the suit, Swindle made both inappropriate contact and comments to Edwards,
starting in February 2006. Edwards reported the behavior to other supervisors, who either
ignored it or joined in, Haynes said.
Eventually, in July 2006, Edwards reported the behavior to Hyundai's human resources
department, and a week later she was transferred from her job as a computer operator to a job on
the assembly line, Haynes said.
Edwards was unable to do that job and was forced to take medical leave. She eventually left the
The size of the verdict should send a message, Haynes said.
"The policy was inadequate," she said of Hyundai's rules against harassment. "The training on the
policy was inadequate.
"We like to think we live in a society where sexual harassment no longer exists."
Haynes also said other employees were harassed but dropped their complaints after Edwards was
transferred to the assembly line.
Officials at the plant never attempted to correct the situation, she said.
"Hyundai didn't take the complaint seriously," she said.
Haynes said she expects Hyundai to appeal, and the carmaker said in a prepared statement that it
was considering its options.
"We are obviously very disappointed with the jury's verdict, which is certainly contrary to the
working environment and atmosphere that we have attempted to establish at HMMA since our
inception," HMMA vice president and general counsel Rick Neal said in the statement released
through a spokesman.
"HMMA has never condoned or tolerated sexual harassment or retaliation in our facility, and we
constantly strive to create a working environment where all of our team members can feel free to
come to work without fear of harassment in any form. That's why this verdict is so terribly
disappointing. It does not accurately reflect HMMA's core values and beliefs."
HMMA's legal team will be carefully examining its options to appeal this case within the next
few weeks, the company said. It also said it will attempt to have the damage amounts reduced.
Edwards also is represented by attorney Kenneth Haynes.