A South Carolina steel mill company is on the verge of paying out a $22.5 million settlement to workers who say they were discriminated against because of their race.

The Nucor Steel Corp. agreed to the settlement after years of litigation dating back to 2003. The class-action lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Barring any hiccups, the settlement should be finalized after a fairness hearing in which U.S. District Judge David Norton reviews the case on Feb. 15 in Charleston.

The lawsuit was filed in late 2003 by seven black employees of the Nucor Corp. steel mill located in Berkeley County, South Carolina. In the suit, the men alleged a “pattern and practice of racially discriminatory promotions and a racially hostile work environment from Dec. 2, 1999 forward.”

Nucor Corp. denied the allegations and argued that opportunities for promotions were available to all employees, regardless of race.

A 2015 court ruling described the hostile work environment in which supervisors allegedly routinely referred to black workers using racial epithets, and allowed racially charged symbols like a noose, Confederate flag and KKK hood to be displayed.

The agreement says that up to $10 million of the settlement money can go to lawyers in the case, with the rest being split between black workers who worked at the steel mill during the time of the allegations.

In addition to the settlement money, Nucor has agreed to provide anti-discrimination training to employees and has created a process for investigating discrimination claims. The company also agreed to revise their hiring practices.

Representatives from the Derfner & Altman firm which represented the workers said that because the deal is not yet finalized, they cannot speak on the matter.

Calls to the defense counsel have not yet been returned, but the Nucor Corp. maintains in court documents that no discrimination took place.



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