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Judge Approves Coke Settlement

A federal judge on yesterday approved a $192.5-million race discrimination lawsuit settlement between Coca-Cola Co. and more than 2,000 of its African-American employees.

In granting his approval, U.S. District Judge Richard Story called the settlement an "historic agreement" that would benefit Coca-Cola and future generations of black workers at the world's leading soft drink company, Reuters reported.

Coca-Cola agreed late last year to tentatively settle a lawsuit filed by a group of black workers, who had accused the company of discriminating against blacks in pay, promotions and performance reviews. Coca-Cola has consistently denied the charges.

"We are pleased that Judge Story has approved the settlement, which we have long maintained is meaningful and equitable for all parties," Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Deutsch said.

The settlement, the largest ever in a racial discrimination case, covers about 2,200 current and former Coke employees who worked for the soft drink maker between April 1995 and June 2000. The workers, most of whom supported the settlement, will receive on average $39,000 each. Coca-Cola also has agreed to set up an independent panel to monitor the company's diversity initiatives.

Coca-Cola still faces a second $1.5 billion race discrimination lawsuit filed by a small dissident group of black workers who contend that the company discriminated against them in the workplace, according to Reuters. Coca-Cola has denied the charges and vowed to fight that lawsuit.
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