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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Coke Agrees to Settle Discrimination Suit




ATLANTA -- The Coca-Cola Co. agreed to settle a year-old racial discrimination lawsuit just as a new $1.5 billion suit was filed on behalf of four other former employees.


The amount of Wednesday's settlement was not immediately disclosed, and other details remained to be worked out.


The settlement could cover as many as 2,000 Coke employees who were part of a potential class the plaintiffs had sought to include in the suit, a lawyer close to the negotiations said on condition of anonymity.


Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of four black former Coke employees not connected to the original race-bias lawsuit, alleging nine counts of discrimination.


"It's hard to view it as anything but blatant and disruptive legal maneuvering seeking to forestall the progress made in the other lawsuit," said Carl Ware, Coca-Cola's vice president for global public affairs and the company's top black executive, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


U.S. District Judge Richard Story signed an order delaying the litigation on the newest lawsuit until Oct. 30, allowing both sides to conclude details of the settlement.


Story's order said the proposed deal requires "additional procedures" to determine the final amount of the settlement.


Story said there would be a public hearing before he approved any settlement.


Coke chairman and chief executive Doug Daft said in a memo to employees Wednesday the agreement "will result in a meaningful and constructive resolution that both parties can embrace and serves the vital interests of all concerned."


Story's order said the judge was advised by the lawyers the tentative settlement would speed relief to the employees "far faster than what realistically can be accomplished through litigation.''