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Racial-Discrimination Settlement Against Coke Passes a Hurdle

March 20, 2001|Associated Press

ATLANTA — A $192.5-million racial-discrimination settlement against Coca-Cola Co. will go forward after only 23 of the 2,200 members of the lawsuit class opted out of the deal by Monday's deadline.

Thirteen others filed objections to the settlement but remain part of it.

Coke could have withdrawn from the settlement if more than 200 current and former workers covered by the settlement declined to participate.

The class includes all salaried black employees who worked for Coke between April 22, 1995, and June 14, 2000.

"This is a resounding victory for those who support this landmark settlement," said Cyrus Mehri, who sued the soft-drink giant on behalf of eight black current and former Coke employees in April 1999.

The company was accused of denying the workers fair pay, promotions, raises and performance reviews. Coke denied the charges but agreed to the record settlement in November.

"We're pleased that the settlement process can continue to move forward," Coke spokesman Ben Deutsch said.

By March 29, class members will receive data from Coke about their employment, and will have until April 30 to confirm that the information is correct. Labor economists will use the data to determine how much back pay each worker will receive from the settlement.

Plaintiffs' lawyers estimate that the average payment to the class members will be about $40,000.

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