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Coke Settles Race Suit.

Coca-Cola will pay $192.5 million to settle a race discrimination class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a class of approximately 2000 African-Americans who have worked for the Coca-Cola Company in the United States in salaried positions since April 22, 1995.

In addition to an approximately $113 million cash settlement, Coca-Cola agreed to make future pay equity adjustments that plaintiffs' experts estimate will cost about $43.5 million, and to implement unprecedented programmatic reforms that plaintiffs estimate will cost about $36 million.

"This settlement sets a new standard for corporate diversity. In short, the 'World of Coke' will be going through a 'World of Change,'" said co-lead counsel Cyrus Mehri of Mehri, Malkin & Ross, PLLC.

In their lawsuit, the African-American employees charged that Coke systematically discriminated against African-Americans, paying them lower salaries than whites for the same work, passing them over for promotions and subjecting them to harassment.

Publicity surrounding the case had troubled Coke, whose U.S. customer base is disproportionately made up of African-Americans and Latinos.

The settlement requires the creation of an outside, seven-member independent task force mandated to ensure compliance with the settlement agreement and to provide independent oversight of Coca-Cola's diversity efforts.

The task force will produce annual reports on Coca-Cola's compliance with the settlement agreement, to be posted on the Company's website. The Task Force will also ensure that Coca-Cola establishes effective internal oversight of individual managerial decisions on promotions, compensation and performance evaluations, to eliminate unlawful bias and excessive subjectivity in decision making.

Most notably, the settlement requires that senior management compensation be linked to the company's equal employment opportunity performance.
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Author:Mokhiber, Russell
Publication:Multinational Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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