In The News
Xerox Corp. Settles Discrimination Suit04/15/2008
Daily Record, by Elizabeth Stull
Xerox Corp., which has received awards for its workplace diversity, on Friday agreed to pay $12 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination with respect to the treatment of African American sales representatives.
In the 2001 lawsuit Warren v. Xerox 1:01-cv-02909-JG-KAM, a group of 1,300 African-American sales representatives alleged racial discrimination with respect to sales territory assignments, quotas and compensation.
The company will pay $12 million, which the company accrued for in the second quarter of 2006. Xerox also agreed to establish a task force comprised of a diverse group of employees to ensure African-American sales representatives are compensated in a non-discriminatory manner by, among other things, assessing the territory assignment process.
The settlement class includes all current and former African-American/Black employees who, anytime after February 1, 1997, were part of the commissioned sales force holding a quota-bearing sales territory in any of these former Xerox sales organizations: U.S. Customer Operations, Xerox Business Services and North American Solutions Group. The class does not include Xerox sales representatives who never worked in these specific organizations after February 1, 1997.
The settlement received preliminary approval from U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, Eastern District of New York.
Xerox and its corporate officers have received awards and national recognition for promoting diversity in the workplace. Chairman and CEO Anne M. Mulcahy received a 2004 Diversity CEO Leadership Award from Diversity Best Practices and The Business Women’s Network, two Washington, D.C.-based organizations. Xerox also was among the top ten U.S. companies in Diversity Best Practices’ 2003-2004 report.
In 2006, the Upstate New York Regional Minority Purchasing Council Inc. recognized Xerox’s commitment to supplier diversity with four awards, and the U.S. Department of Commerce gave the company a Certificate of Appreciation for its service on behalf of Minority Business Enterprises.
“While we adamantly deny any wrongdoing, we thought it was in the best interest of the company to settle, to avoid the time, uncertainty and expense of litigation,” Xerox spokesman Mike Moeller said.
“When you look at the number of people that had potential claims, it’s probably not way out of line; it’s probably a reasonable resolution,” said Steven Modica, of Modica & Associates, Rochester. Modica, former chairman of the Monroe County Bar Association’s employment law committee, serves as a special master for wage-and-hour cases.
He noted that a typical trial for employment discrimination could result in monetary damages including backpay, loss of current and future pay benefits, if relevant, compensatory damages including emotional distress and punitive damages. In a trial against a company the size of Xerox, each plaintiff could recover up to $300,000 for punitive damages and emotional distress.
Attorneys Barry Weprin of Milberg Weiss LLP and Dianne Bradley of the Law Offices of Dianne Bradley & Associates, Washington D.C., represented the plaintiffs class. Under the agreement they are not allowed to comment on this case. The law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP represented Xerox.