A federal judge has given final approval to a $24.4 million settlement over claims that the Walgreens drugstore chain discriminated against thousands of black employees nationwide. The settlement resolves two lawsuits filed in federal court in East St. Louis. The first was an EEOC suit filed last year after complaints from more than 20 current or former employees. The second suit was a class action filed in 2005 by 14 current and former black employees alleging “a pervasive policy of race discrimination” at Walgreen Co. In the suits, employees and former employees claimed that black employees were paid less than similarly situated white counterparts and that black applicants for management trainee positions were rejected because of their race. They also alleged that the company steered black managers to certain stores and denied them promotions.
As part of the consent decree, which has been given final approval by a federal judge, about 10,000 current and former black employees will share in the settlement funds. The named plaintiffs in the case will receive more than $300,000 each. In the consent decree, Walgreen Co. says it will not discriminate against employees based on race and won’t retaliate against anyone reporting discrimination. The agreement requires the company to hire outside consultants to review its employment and promotions practices. The company also agreed to examine compensation for disparities between similarly situated black and white employees, set up a procedure for employees to report race discrimination and provide nondiscrimination training. Walgreen Co., which is based in Deerfield, Illinois, operates more than 6,000 stores nationwide. The EEOC offices in St. Louis and Kansas City investigated the initial charges filed with the federal agency.
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
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