Lawsuit a catalyst for Coke changes

ATLANTA, GA: Coca-Cola is preparing to make significant improvements to its employee relations as part of the settlement of a racial discrimination suit by black employees in which the company paid dollars 192.2 million.

ATLANTA, GA: Coca-Cola is preparing to make significant improvements to its employee relations as part of the settlement of a racial discrimination suit by black employees in which the company paid dollars 192.2 million.

ATLANTA, GA: Coca-Cola is preparing to make significant improvements to its employee relations as part of the settlement of a racial discrimination suit by black employees in which the company paid dollars 192.2 million.

A seven-member watchdog group is to be appointed jointly by the company and the plaintiffs' lawyers. In addition, Coke will establish a toll-free telephone number for complaints, with an ombudsman to investigate calls.

The suit claimed that black employees who worked for the company between April 22, 1995, and June 14, 2000, were subject to pay and promotional discrimination.

'This lawsuit told us that what we thought we had been doing very well, we weren't doing well enough,' said Robert Baskin, AVP and director of corporate media relations. 'It was a priority to bring a resolution to this lawsuit and to make everyone feel a welcome part of this company.'

Coke is required to pay dollars 43.5 million in adjusted salaries and another dollars 36 million to facilitate internal changes. Coke also will give dollars 50 million to its foundation for community initiatives.

Employee communications surrounding the settlement is an ongoing challenge for the internal PR team of about 35. But Baskin said staff meetings to answer concerns throughout the lawsuit had resulted in employee confidence.

'It's been a long, long road. But it has demonstrated that the best communications are frequent, honest and transparent.'



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