Charlotte soft drink bottler settles racial bias claim

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(NNPA)—Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated of Charlotte has agreed to pay $495,000 in back wages and interest to 95 African-American and Hispanic job seekers for racial discrimination.

The applicants applied in 2002 for sales support positions at the company’s Black Satchel Road distribution facility in Charlotte. The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

In addition to back pay, the Coca-Cola bottler agreed to make offers of employment to the applicants until at least 23 are hired. Those hired will receive retroactive seniority benefits they would have accrued from July 1, 2002, if not for the discriminatory actions of the company.

“The Labor Department is firmly committed to ensuring that those who do business with our government do not discriminate in their employment practices,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu.  “Being a federal contractor is a privilege that comes with an obligation to ensure equal opportunity in employment.”

This plant is the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation and a major supplier of Coke brand products to military and government installations under a number of federal contracts.

OFCCP’s investigation of the company’s hiring practices found Coca-Cola Consolidated failed to hire qualified minority applicants at a comparable rate to non-minorities. OFCCP’s statistical analysis determined that the disparity in hires was too great to occur solely by chance. Additionally, OFCCP found that the bottler’s records revealed instances in which rejected minority applicants had more experience and education than some non-minority hires.

(Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post.)

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