DETROIT—General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. are investigating claims that several Magna International Inc. sales executives treated the automakers' purchasers to visits at Detroit-area strip joints.
The allegations stem from a sex- ual harassment lawsuit filed against Magna by former sales representative Lorrie Beno.In the lawsuit, Beno claims she was harassed repeatedly by male workers at Magna's sales office in Livonia, Mich. Beno's lawyers obtained depositions from Magna executives describing strip-joint visits.
Expense accounts obtained by the plaintiff suggest that Magna compensated sales executives for these activities. The depositions also contain allegations that the Magna employees falsified the names of purchasers they had entertained to protect them from the carmakers' corporate monitors.
The lawsuit, filed in November in Wayne County Circuit Court, was described by the Detroit News in a Sept. 7 article. The activities appear to violate ethics rules of GM and Chrysler. Both firms strictly limit gifts, meals and entertainment that employees may accept from suppliers. The policies are intended to discourage suppliers from trying to sway company purchasers.
``We have an internal investigation going on here,'' said Chrysler spokesman David Barnas. ``Obviously we consider the allegations to be serious. If any of them are true, it would lead to disciplinary action.''
GM also has launched a probe.
Magna is Chrysler's largest supplier, and was GM's Supplier of the Year in 1995 and 1996.If Magna customers suspect wrongdoing, rivals like Lear Corp. or Johnson Controls Inc. may get more business.
Contacted last week, a senior Magna executive said it is company policy to honor the ethics policies of its customers.
``If there is any deviation from that policy, we will deal with it accordingly,'' said Dennis Bausch, executive vice president of marketing. ``The legal process will produce the truth.''