If you drive a Hyundai, pay attention.
The former highest-ranking Black executive at the company’s Alabama plant is suing her ex-employer, claiming the company engaged in racial discrimination while she was there and ultimately fired her because she did something she considered part of her job.
Yvette Gilkey-Shuford’s role was as director of administration at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, a $1.8 billion plant with 3,000 workers who crank out the brand’s Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Elantra and Tuscon vehicles. Gilkey-Shuford told car mag Road & Track that part of her role was working to improve conditions for diverse employees at a facility that was staffed mostly by Black workers who were primarily managed by white and Korean men (Hyundai is a Korean automaker).
But earlier this year, Gilkey-Shuford advised a group of LGBTQ staffers on a memo they produced that included proposed changes in working conditions and culture at the plant. That memo made its way to Hyundai’s U.S. headquarters in California, without her knowledge. After that, she says, she was pretty much working on borrowed time.
Per Road & Track:
Those who [the memo] were reportedly alarmed by the policies of the Alabama-based manufacturing arm. As a result, Hyundai corporate expressed concern and dissatisfaction to plant leadership in Alabama. Gilkey-Shuford says plant leadership was likely angry that the memo ever got out to management in California. She believes that management, after learning she had advised on the memo—which she did not know would be shared with corporate—decided to restructure her department. The “restructuring” had exactly one effect, according to the lawsuit: It eliminated Gilkey-Shuford’s position. She was not offered an alternative position, and the change was effective immediately.
Hyundai has denied the allegations in a statement, saying it “provides a workplace free of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin or ancestry, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, uniformed service member status or any other status protected by federal, state or local law.”