The head of Coca Cola Co.'s human resources department has resigned. Coretha Rushing is leaving for personal reasons. In a memo to employees on Monday, the company said that Rushing was leaving the company "to pursue other interests."

Rushing, who joined Coke in 1996, was appointed head of the company's resource department in March 2000. In that role, she helped resolve a race discrimination class-action lawsuit involving black employees, resulting in a payment by the soft drinks giant of US$192.5m.

Rushing's resignation leaves only one black female holding a position at a senior vice president level or higher in the company.

Rushing will remain with Coke until a replacement has been appointed.