By Tim Condon,BBC NewsIn the United States, Honda Motor and Honda Motor Manufacturing have settled a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by three individuals claiming that they were discriminated against in employment because of their race, gender and disability.
The lawsuit alleges that the discrimination was perpetrated by the company’s CEO and the president of Honda Motor, which has about 8,000 employees in the US.
The case is the largest to be brought under the federal Fair Employment and Housing Act in US history.
In 2015, Honda filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging discrimination against its employees on the basis of race, sex and disability, which the EEOC ruled on in October.
The EEOC alleged that Honda violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on their race or national origin, on the grounds of their job qualifications.
The NLRB found in July 2016 that Honda’s CEO, Tadashi Masuda, and his wife, Satsuki Masuda – a Honda executive who is also a former US attorney – discriminated against employees in hiring, promotions, promotions pay and compensation.
Mr Masuda has since resigned as Honda’s president and CEO.
The Masuda family has said it plans to settle the suit out of court.
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, and the companies have said they will use the settlement funds to support programs and initiatives in their local communities.
The company has also agreed to pay $50m to settle a lawsuit brought by former employees who were fired over a false claim that they had suffered a fatal heart attack at work.
The workers alleged that they experienced severe stress related to the false claim, including the loss of their jobs and medical bills, and that Honda and the Masuda had retaliated against them.
The former employees are seeking compensatory damages of $200,000 and punitive damages of up to $2.5bn.
A spokesperson for Honda said: “Honda has taken full responsibility for the circumstances that led to these adverse workplace decisions and the company is committed to supporting our local communities and helping them overcome their adversity.”
Mr Masud has said he has apologised to the Masud family.
The companies had initially said that the case would go to trial, but the parties have since agreed to settle it out of federal court.
“We’ve always said that this will be the first and last case we take to court in the United.
We’ve got to work with our federal partners,” said Mr Masud in a statement to the BBC.
Honda also announced a $1.8bn settlement with former workers of a company that has been accused of systematically discriminating against female and African American employees.
The $500m settlement covers claims related to a $600m class action settlement that took place in 2011 in which more than 700 women claimed they had been fired or denied promotions because of gender or race.
Hondas decision to settle was welcomed by some industry figures.
“I’m proud that Honda has accepted responsibility for these actions, which are a violation of the law, and will be used as a catalyst to change how employers handle and treat their diverse workforce,” said Tom Barr, chairman of the US Automotive Council, a trade association for the automotive industry.
“The settlement gives Honda a long-overdue win and the opportunity to move beyond this shameful past and continue its efforts to bring fairness and respect to the workplace.”