A Decade of Discrimination

Article excerpt

A discrimination lawsuit of any kind can severely damage a company's reputation, not to mention its bottom line. Whether an employee is (or is not) being discriminated against because of gender, race, sexual orientation, age or disability, the legal recourse and public scorn could be costly. The following lists some of the largest discrimination cases in recent history--painful reminders of the effects of inequality in the workplace.

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Coca-Cola Coughs It Up

November 2000

In April 1999, approximately 2,000 of its African-American employees filed suit against Coca-Cola, claiming discrimination when it came to salary, promotions and evaluations. The company paid out $192.5 million to settle the allegations: $113 million in cash, $43.5 million to adjust salaries and $36 million for mandated oversight of the its employment practices. The settlement remains the largest in a racial class action suit.

Lockheed Loses

January 2008

Charles Daniels, an African-American and former electrician for Lockheed Martin, filed a lawsuit against the company in 2001 for racial discrimination. He claimed that the men he worked alongside on his electrical team harassed him verbally and threatened him with lynching throughout his two years with the defense and aerospace corporation. Daniels, even after allegedly being told by his superiors that they "never lose" a lawsuit in court, filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Lockheed eventually agreed to pay $2.5 million to Daniels in the biggest settlement ever obtained by the EEOC on behalf of an individual in a racial discrimination case.

Sears Sets Record

September 2009

The EEOC announced a record-setting disability discrimination settlement in September 2009. The suit, originally filed in 2004, alleged that Sears maintained an "inflexible workers compensation leave exhaustion policy" and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, a violation of the Americans with Diabilities Act (ADA). The case was filed by a former employee who was injured on the job, took workers compensation leave and, when attempting to return to work, was fired. …