Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated has made a settlement with 95 of its workers

Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated has made a settlement with 95 of its workers

Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated has made a settlement with 95 of its workers after an investigation was carried out by the US Department of Labor's Office over claims of racial discrimination.

The US Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programmes (OFCCP) said on Thursday (7 October) that the bottler had agreed to pay US$495,000 in back wages and interest to 95 African-American and Hispanic job seekers who applied for sales support positions at the company's distribution facility in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2002.

The OFCCP's investigation found that the Coca-Cola bottler failed to hire "qualified minority applicants at a comparable rate to non-minority applicants". The office also found that the bottler's records revealed instances in which rejected minority applicants had more experience and education than some non-minority hires, it stated.

In addition to back pay, the Coca-Cola bottler has agreed to make offers of employment to the 95 applicants involved until at least 23 interested applicants are hired.

As part of the settlement, those hired will receive back-dated seniority benefits that they would have accrued from 1 July 2002.

"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 Shiu. "Being a federal contractor is a privilege that comes with an obligation to ensure equal opportunity in employment."

In response, Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated said it "did not and does not discriminate against any person for any reason" and that there were "legitimate non-discriminatory reasons" for not hiring certain applicants subject to the claim.

"The claim that was settled is based on a statistical formula applied to the applicant pool and dates back to 2002," a spokesperson said. "Upon consideration of a number of factors, the company entered in to a settlement agreement with no admission of wrong-doing. We have a long history of working cooperatively with the OFCCP. We remain committed treating all job applicants fairly and living our purpose statement which directs us to value and cultivate diversity in our workplace."