To settle lawsuits made by African American workers, Eastman Kodak Co. has agreed to pay $21.4 million. The two suits stem from allegations of race discrimination as it pertained to pay and promotion.
Currently the settlement must be given the final approval by a judge to end the pending lawsuits against the company. Although the settlement was made, Kodak still holds that the company has committed nothing wrong.
Kodak spokesman Christopher has stated that the company has reached an agreement with the workers to not publicly discuss the settlement awaiting approval and it is a representation of a resolution of mutual interest.
The first suit stretches back to 2004 in Federal District Court in Rochester, where the company is based. Employees made statements alleging that the company was paying their Black workers far less in comparison to White workers. Along with that they weren’t given promotions as often and were disciplined when they issued a complaint. The suit also stated that Kodak allowed for harassment to take place where racial epithets were used against Black workers.
After several attempts between Kodak and the plaintiffs’ lawyers were unsuccessful, the suit was the end result. Discussion began back then in February after the Buffalo office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came to the conclusion, through a 4 ½ year investigation, that Kodak was involved in discriminatory practices.
The second suit comes from a group of black workers in 2007. The terms and allegations of this suit were familiar to those made in 2004.
Terms of the agreement has forced Kodak to pay $75,000 each to the core group that was made up of 12 plaintiffs and $5,000 to the 15 others.
Having accumulated close to 3,000 African American employees between 1999 and 2006, Kodak will be paying them monetary awards that range from $500 to $3,000.
Part of the deal also requires that Kodak take necessary steps to improve its diversity training for supervisors. The company has stated that it will hire an industrial psychologist and labor statistician that will review the pay and promotions policies and recommend improvements where needed.
September 15 will be the date of a hearing in Rochester before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman to close the case between Kodak and its disgruntled black workers.