US: Coke settles lawsuit with Whitely
Whitley has agreed to dismiss his complaints against the company in return for a package that includes US$100,000, the severance benefits to which he is entitled, estimated at US$140,000, and his attorney's fees of $300,000.
Whitley's lawsuit included allegations about accounting malpractice, rigged marketing tests and that Coke's managers knew that malfunctioning frozen-beverage machines were allowing metal residue to enter some drink products. Though Coke denied almost all the allegations, they have led to inquiries by the Securities Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice.
In a joint statement Whitley and Coca-Cola said they would both continue to cooperate with the United States Attorney and the SEC in their respective investigations.
Whitley said: "Over the past several weeks, I have reflected on my relationship with Coca-Cola, a company I still respect and love. It's become increasingly clear to me that the Company has taken seriously the issues I raised. That's all I ever wanted.
"My family and I are pleased to put my differences with The Coca-Cola Company behind us and start the next chapter in our lives," Whitley said.
Deval Patrick, executive vice president and general counsel of The Coca-Cola Company, said: "Mr. Whitley was a diligent employee with a solid record. It is disappointing that he felt he needed to file a lawsuit in order to be heard.
"We want everyone in this company to bring their issues to the attention of management through appropriate channels, and every manager to take them seriously, investigate them, and make the necessary changes. That is how we become a better company," Patrick said.
Sectors: Soft drinks
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