A federal judge has approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit in which Covelli Enterprises, a major Panera Bread franchisee, was accused of denying promotions to black employees. Under the settlement, any African American who worked for Covelli’s Panera stores for longer than a year and wanted a promotion between Jan. 11, 2008, and Jan. 11, 2012, can get payment for alleged lost opportunities. For each hour worked after their first year, they can get 70 cents — about what they would have gotten if promoted.
It was alleged that the company kept black employees on kitchen duty rather than moving them to cashier jobs and denied them promotions. Covelli, based in Warren, Ohio, has claimed it did not discriminate. U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster found in his opinion that the proposed settlement with some 200 to 300 current or former employees of Covelli is “fair, within the range of reasonableness, and is not obviously deficient in any way.” Sam Cordes, a Pittsburg lawyer, represented the Plaintiffs in this case and he did a very good job.
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