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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Toyota worker sues for harassment
Picture of the accuser, Sayaka Kobayashi, provided by her lawyer
Sayaka Kobayashi is seeking $190m in damages
A Toyota employee has filed a $190m (103m) lawsuit in the US, alleging that the carmaker's top American boss sexually harassed her.

Sayaka Kobayashi, 42, claims Toyota North American chief executive Hideaki Otaka, 65, made repeated sexual advances to her in 2005.

Toyota said it had a "zero tolerance" policy towards sexual harassment, but declined to make any further comment.

The news came as Toyota posted a 9% rise in US sales in April.

This was the month's highest gain, and compared with a 6.5% rise at Honda - and yet more declines at the big three US car firms.

April sales at General Motors dipped 7%, while those at Chrysler dropped 4%, and Ford's declined 3%.

Overall US car sales in April were down 3% to 16.7 million vehicles.

'Bad reputation'

Ms Kobayashi alleges that the sexual harassment against her took place while she was working as Mr Otaka's assistant in New York.

Rather than the step forward for her career that she had hoped, the position [in Mr Otaka's office] has turned into a personal nightmare for Ms Kobayashi
Ms Kobayashi's lawsuit

She further claims that the firm failed to act on her complaints at the time.

In her lawsuit, she says she was asked to become Mr Otaka's assistant in March 2005.

"Rather than the step forward for her career that she had hoped, the position has turned into a personal nightmare for Ms Kobayashi," the lawsuit said.

It adds that Toyota should have known Mr Otaka had a "reputation of abusing positions of authority within Toyota Japan by repeatedly engaging in or attempting to engage in extra-marital sexual relationships".

Ms Kobayashi is seeking $40m for injury to her career, plus $150m in punitive damages.

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