Lawsuit accuses UAW leaders, including Ford VP, of sexual harassment

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DETROIT — A UAW employee last week filed a lawsuit alleging multiple union leaders, including the current and former vice presidents of the Ford department, sexually harassed her numerous times, according to court records.

Patricia Morris-Gibson, a 56-year-old UAW international service representative, said in the lawsuit that she was “subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment including but not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, comments, and offensive conduct of a sexual nature.”

Gerald Kariem, vice president of the Ford department and a member of the union’s international executive board, is among three named defendants. The other two are Miguel Foster, an assistant director of technical office professionals, and George Hardy, an assistant director of independent parts suppliers.

It’s the second allegation of sexual misconduct against a current board member in roughly two months. After allegations surfaced in March against former Region 2B Director Rich Rankin, which he denies, UAW officials began an investigation and subsequently suspended him, later filing Article 30 charges to potentially oust him from the union.

Among the incidents in the latest lawsuit, Morris-Gibson alleges Kariem asked her to sleep with him during a conference in Washington, D.C. She alleges he nicknamed her “cousin” because she reminded him of his beautiful cousin and remarked how “fine” she looked during a 2019 bargaining conference in Detroit.

Kariem was named vice president in January and previously was director of Region 1D.

Morris-Gibson also alleges that Foster, her supervisor, asked her to “have his babies,” commented “about bending plaintiff over her desk” and “shockingly kissed plaintiff on the side of her mouth without her consent or permission,” according to the lawsuit.

She alleges that in one interaction with Jimmy Settles, a former UAW-Ford Department vice president who retired in 2018, he ran his hand across her stomach and asked if he could “have some.” Another time, the suit alleges, Settles called her into a meeting with current UAW President Rory Gamble to bring Gamble some water, then commented on her breasts, saying she looked “happy to see” him.

She alleges that the union did nothing to address the issues and that she was threatened with demotion.

A UAW spokesman said Monday that as a matter of course, the union does not comment on pending litigation. Attempts to reach officials named in the suit were unsuccessful.

Morris-Gibson is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. The Detroit News first reported the lawsuit.

The suit comes as the union remains embroiled in a federal corruption probe. Ex-UAW President Gary Jones is expected to plead guilty to embezzlement Wednesday.

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