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OFCCP settles discrimination case with 2nd-largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation

OCCP settles discrimination case with 2nd-largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation OFCCP News Release | October 7, 2010

US Labor Department settles discrimination case with 2nd-largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation

Minority applicants to receive back wages, interest and job offers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated has agreed to pay $495,000 in back wages and interest to 95 African-American and Hispanic job seekers who applied in 2002 for sales support positions at the company’s Black Satchel Road distribution facility in Charlotte. The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

In addition to back pay, the Coca-Cola bottler agreed to make offers of employment to those 95 applicants until at least 23 interested applicants are hired. Those hired will receive retroactive seniority benefits they would have accrued from July 1, 2002, if not for the discriminatory actions of the company.

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

This plant is the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation and a major supplier of Coke brand products to military and government installations under a number of federal contracts.

OFCCP’s investigation of the company’s hiring practices found that the Coca-Cola bottler failed to hire qualified minority applicants at a comparable rate to non-minority applicants. OFCCP’s statistical analysis determined that the disparity in hires was too great to occur solely by chance. Additionally, OFCCP found that the bottler’s own records revealed instances in which rejected minority applicants had more experience and education than some non-minority hires.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws hold those who do business with the federal government, to the very reasonable standard that they not discriminate in their employment practices based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. For more information, visit OFCCP’s website at

U.S. hiring standards get left at border; Job ads that in this country might bring lawsuits alleging bias are routine in Mexico

U.S. hiring standards get left at border
Job ads that in this country might bring lawsuits alleging bias are routine in Mexico
By Marla Dickerson and Meredith Mandell | Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times | October 30, 2006

MEXICO CITY — When Michigan-based automotive supplier Lear Corp. needed a secretary for its office in the central Mexico state of Guanajuato, it placed a classified ad seeking a "female … aged 20 to 28 … preferably single … with excellent presentation."

And to make sure it got the right candidate, Lear asked applicants to include a recent photo with their resumes.

In the United States that ad might draw howls of protests and trigger lawsuits and hefty fines. But in Mexico, where jobs are scarce and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws all but non-existent, employers routinely select hires on criteria more appropriate for a beauty contest.

Job seekers considered too old, too chunky or too dark are screened out by companies that sometimes specify the ideal candidate’s marital status, height, weight, tone of voice, even the part of town in which the person should reside.

What is less known is that many U.S. corporations–including Coca-Cola, Pepsi Bottling, Shell Oil and 7-Eleven–are engaging in hiring practices that appear to violate their U.S. fair-employment policies.

They include companies that trumpet their diversity initiatives north of the border, even top-drawer Chicago-based law firm Baker & McKenzie, which should be familiar with Mexican laws prohibiting discrimination.

"Why are so many of them not complying with the same standards they have to comply with in the United States? Because they can get away with it," said anti-discrimination attorney Gloria Allred.

Lear officials in the United States said they had no knowledge of the Mexican job posting.

Provided with a copy, spokeswoman Andrea Puchalsky later issued a statement declaring that the ad was not in keeping with Lear’s equal-employment policies and that it would be revised to remove references to sex, age and similar criteria.

Mexico’s constitution and federal labor code prohibit discrimination based on age, sex, ethnicity, religion, marital status, health and other factors. But legal experts say Mexicans rarely complain to authorities or file employment discrimination lawsuits, partly because seeking redress is a lengthy and expensive process.

"They don’t contract you if you don’t have a pretty face or a pretty body," said Patricia Tellez, a plump lawyer who was one of hundreds of anxious hopefuls packing a recent job fair in Tlajomulco, not far from Guadalajara.

Some U.S. employers should know better. Baker & McKenzie, a Chicago-based law firm, recently advertised for a real estate attorney–a male one–for its office in the northern Mexico city of Monterrey.

Celene Caballero, a firm recruiter in Mexico, said Mexican clients feel more comfortable with men representing them. The firm, which a California jury in 1994 ordered to pay millions to a former female secretary to settle a landmark sexual-harassment case, said the online Mexican ad was "an aberration" that would be revised.

Historic Discrimination Settlement: Ingram vs. The Coca-Cola Company

Historic Discrimination Settlement: Ingram vs. The Coca-Cola Company

The case involved race discrimination in promotions, compensation and evaluations. Among other things, the plaintiffs alleged a substantial difference in pay between African-American and white employees; a "glass ceiling" that kept African-Americans from advancing past entry-level management positions; "glass walls" that channeled African-Americans to management in areas like human resources and away from power centers such as marketing and finance; and senior management knowledge of these problems since 1995 and a failure to remedy them.

In early 2000, the Court ordered both sides into mediation. The parties reached agreement on a Settlement-In-Principle on June 14, 2000. A final Settlement Agreement, valued at $192.5 million and designed to ensure dramatic reform of Coca-Cola’s employment practices, was officially approved by the Court on June 7, 2001.

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