Updated 10:30 a.m. ET
Ford Motor Co.’s North American President Raj Nair has been forced out over allegations of “inappropriate behavior.” The company didn’t offer many details.
In a statement, Ford said that Nair, 53, is leaving the company effective immediately.
Ford announced on Thursday that Kumar Galhotra will succeed Nair. Galhotra, 52, is a 29-year veteran of the company, most recently leading the Lincoln brand and serving as Ford’s chief marketing officer.
Ford officials did not specify what behavior led to Nair’s departure, but according to The Associated Press, the company began an investigation after a recent anonymous complaint about Nair was made to the company’s 24-hour hotline.
“We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said in the statement.
“Ford is deeply committed to proving and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expected our leaders to fully uphold these values,” Hackett said.
In that corporate statement, Nair expressed regret, saying, “There have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused.”
When the AP contacted Nair by phone, he said he had nothing to add to that statement.
Nair was named Ford’s executive vice president and head of North America on June 1, 2017. Prior to that, he was Ford’s head of global product development and chief technical officer.
He joined the company in 1987 and worked his way up the engineering ranks. Some speculated he was on a career path to become chief executive officer of the auto giant.
“This comes at a particularly bad time for Ford, which only last spring ousted Mark Fields as CEO,” Autotrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs told The Wall Street Journal, referring to Nair’s departure. “Investors and analysts have been unhappy with the seeming lack of a clear direction.”
“Nair’s departure came just weeks after Ford announced the resignation of the chief of its operations in China, Jason Luo, who had been hired away from an auto-parts maker only five months earlier. A company official said Mr. Luo’s departure had been related to ‘personal reasons that predate his time at Ford.’
“Just a few weeks before that, Ford had been forced to deal with the fallout of The Times investigation of longstanding abuses at two of its plants in Chicago. In August, Ford had reached a $10 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case related to the plants.”
Nair joins numerous business leaders who have been fired or have resigned in recent months because of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.