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PHILADELPHIA -- Sunoco Inc. has agreed to pay $5.5 million to settle a discrimination suit filed by current and former employees who claimed they were denied promotions because they were African-American, reported the Associated Press.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2001, claimed that black managers, administrators, accountants and other white-collar workers had a harder time advancing at Sunoco than white workers with similar skills and experience.
The lead plaintiff, DeWayne Ketchum, said he spent 30 years in various financial jobs for Sunoco, but never made it into an upper-level management job.
Sunoco spokesman Gerald Davis said company officials still believe the lawsuit was without merit, and the company did not discriminate, but felt it was in the company's best interest to settle before the case got to trial.
"Sunoco is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified candidates," Davis said. "We feel good about the progress the company has made in the representation of African-Americans in both supervisory and management positions."
As many as 200 current and former employees at the oil refiner's Philadelphia headquarters and its facilities around the city would be paid varying amounts as part of the settlement. A federal judge has given preliminary approval to the deal and conducted a hearing Friday into its fairness.
Sunoco reported revenue of almost $16 billion last year.