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EEOC resolves race bias suit against steelmaker

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A U.S. District Court judge has entered a $150,000 consent decree that resolves an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission race discrimination lawsuit filed against a steel manufacturing company which allegedly refused to promote four black workers in its Alabama plant.

The agency said in a statement Friday that Outokumpu Stainless USA L.L.C., whose parent company is based in Helsinki, Finland, failed to promote four highly qualified black workers to team leader positions in its Calvert, Alabama, plant because they are black, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The company promoted lesser qualified white applicants instead, the EEOC said.

In addition to paying the $150,000 to the four workers, under terms of the settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Alabama, the company agreed to take specified actions designed to prevent future discrimination, including implementing new policies and practices designed to prevent race discrimination in employment decisions, the agency said.

Making employment decisions based on race, such as promoting white candidates over more qualified African-American candidates, strikes at the heart of why Title VII exists," said Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham district office, in a statement.

 "Although we have come a long way since Title VII was enacted, discrimination still occurs. EEOC will continue to pursue actions against employers who make employment decisions based on race rather than skill and experience."
Outokumpu’s attorney, Gavin Appleby, a shareholder with Littler Mendelson P.C. in Atlanta, said in a statement the case was settled “to avoid what would have been an expensive trial.”