Chemical Race Discrimination Suit Settlement Is Approved

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- A federal judge approved a settlement Wednesday of a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by black professional and managerial employees of Chemical Bank.

The settlement of the class action suit calls for Chemical to provide $500,000 for "promotional payments" and scholarships and requires the bank to "accelerate its affirmative action goals."

The case was brought to court by Roderick Plummer, a Chemial Bank attorney, three years ago on behalf of black professional and managerial staff at the bank. The suit contended black executives were not being promoted as quickly as their white counterparts and that they received less pay than white executives.

The class is made up of 417 black employees in the professional, managerial, or official categories who have worked for Chemical since Feb. 21, 1981, and who are still employed by the bank.

Two earlier pacts negotiated by the two sides had been rejected by U.S. District Judge William C. Conner because he found them deficient in several respects, including being "grossly disparate" in favoring the four named plaintiffs at the expense of the rest of the class.

Judge Conner had also ruled that the earlier agreements provided for an "unstructured grievance procedure" which made it "inadequate" from the perspective of the unnamed class members.

In approving the latest version, the judge said the parties "have addressed both of these concerns -- removing all disparate relief for named class members and placing definite time constraints on each step of the grievance process."

Judge Conner noted that the statistical evidence presented supported the conclusion that the plaintiffs, as a class, have "a prima facie case" of promotion discrimination.

However, they had failed to show equal pay or salary discrimination, he added. …