KODAK TO PAY OUT $ 19M TO SETTLE RACE BASED LAWSUIT

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KODAK TO PAY OUT $ 19M TO SETTLE RACE BASED LAWSUIT

 user 2010-09-29 at 8:04:58 am Views: 66
  • #24237
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gx5fH-r7_bpopkrGdcz_FWvfyb9QD9I0MBL81
    KODAK TO PAY OUT $ 19M TO SETTLE RACE BASED LAWSUIT
    ROCHESTER,
    N.Y. — A federal judge on Friday approved Eastman Kodak Co.’s $21.4
    million offer to settle class-action lawsuits by black employees who
    maintained white counterparts were favored over them for pay and
    promotion.In an almost seven-year legal tussle, U.S. Magistrate Jonathan
    Feldman signed off on a deal that pays about 3,000 current and past
    Kodak workers amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The decision ends a
    2004 class-action lawsuit and a similar suit filed by other black
    workers in 2007.

    The Rochester, N.Y.-based photography products
    maker was accused of paying black employees less than white co-workers,
    passing them over for promotions and maintaining a racially hostile work
    environment.Last October, Feldman heard arguments in favor of the deal
    from Kodak and lawyers for the plaintiffs. He then fielded complaints
    from more than a dozen former employees who said proposed payouts were
    inadequate, lawyer fees too high and the offer unfairly excluded workers
    who left Kodak before 1999.

    Under the settlement, 3,008 workers
    get $9.65 million and their lawyers $9.7 million in fees and expenses.
    Adjustments to individual awards were negotiated, with a dozen workers
    having $75,000 awards reduced by one-third.The balance of the settlement
    will go to administering the claims and supporting enhanced diversity
    training for supervisors that Kodak promised as part of the deal. The
    company will also hire an industrial psychologist and two labor
    statisticians to review pay and promotion policies and recommend
    improvements.

    In a statement, Kodak said the settlement
    “represents a resolution of mutual interest and it absolutely does not
    suggest any wrongdoing” on the company’s part.”Kodak is widely
    recognized as a company committed to creating and maintaining an
    inclusive workplace in which all employees are valued, treated fairly
    and can contribute to their full potential,” it added.

    The judge
    noted that a Kodak damage expert, Harvard University Professor David
    Bloom, analyzed historical payroll data and concluded “there were no
    race-based disparities in promotion and compensation at Kodak between
    1999 and 2005 and African-Americans were, in fact, statistically favored
    in promotion and base salary increases during the 1999-2005 time
    period.”"These risks and others make the fairness of the settlement all
    the more evident and weigh in favor of approving the settlement
    agreement,” the judge said in a 59-page decision.