Coke Announces $192.5 Million Settlement

ByABC News
November 16, 2000, 3:40 PM

A T L A N T A, Nov. 16 -- The Coca-Cola Co. agreed today to pay $192.5million to settle a racial discrimination suit by black workers.

The amount includes $113 million in cash, $43.5 million toadjust salaries, $36 million for oversight of the companysemployment practices. Coke also will pay $20 million in attorneysfees and plans to donate $50 million to its foundation forcommunity programs.

The soft drinks maker also agreed to have its employmentpractices reviewed by an outside group.

To cover the cost of the settlement, the company will take a$188 million charge in the fourth quarter.

Shares of Coca-Cola fell 6 cents to $61.44 in afternoon tradingon the New York Stock Exchange.

The settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge RichardStory, in whose court the suit was filed in April 1999. Details ofthe settlement will be sent to about 2,000 class members beginningnext month.

The lawsuit claimed Coca-Cola discriminated against blacksalaried employees in pay, promotions and evaluations. The companydenied the claims.

The settlement covers salaried black employees in the UnitedStates who worked for Coke between April 22, 1995, and June 14,2000.

Watchdog Group At Center of Suit

The seven-member watchdog group, charged with making sureCoca-Cola is fair in pay, promotions and performance evaluations,was a centerpiece of the settlement. Three members will beappointed by the plaintiffs lawyers, three by Coke and a chairmanjointly appointed by both. The task force will recommend changesand ensure they are carried out; Coke retains the option ofchallenging changes it feels are not financially or technicallyfeasible.

A toll-free telephone line will be established to receivecomplaints 24 hours a day.

A newly created ombudsman will investigate all complaints,report to Coca-Cola Chairman Doug Daft and give periodic reviews tothe task force.

The agreement also requires Cokes board of directors to monitorthe companys progress in meeting its new obligations, including: