Lufkin Industries Inc., an East Texas company, must pay black workers more than $3 million in back pay as damages in a class action lawsuit charging racial discrimination. A federal judge ruled that the company must pay the workers $3.1 million as well as 5% interest to compensate them for acts of discrimination dating from 1994. A bench trial in 2005 found that the company unlawfully made initial assignment and promotion decisions that discriminated against black workers. That ruling was made by another federal judge who died later that year. In the recent ruling, Judge Ron Clark wrote:
Lufkin Industries has been profiting for years from its policy of unlawful discrimination. At the same time, as Judge Cobb found, Lufkin’s CEO was indulged with a corporate jet and pilot and in 2002 a paycheck three times that of the president of the United States.
Lufkin, a publicly traded company, sells and services oil field pumping units, foundry castings and power transmission products. The class action suit, which lists 13 named Plaintiffs, was filed in 1997. Judge Clark’s order followed a directive from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking that the district court craft a more specific remedial order.
The amount of pay due the workers, with interest, will be about $5 million. But because the suit only addressed the pay differentials in certain documented cases, the problem appears to be much bigger. The final judgment in 2005 noted that the company’s managers and supervisors gave whites preferential treatment and that “the pattern of African American shortfalls in promotions is consistent across the years.” The company was ordered to stop channeling black applicants to divisions where working conditions are poor. Tim Gerrigan, a lawyer from Nacogdoches, Texas, represented the workers and did an outstanding job.
Source: Associated Press
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