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Judge settles Truck drivers’ bias suit

Posted on : 10-07-2009 | By : Truckdriversnews | In : Thoughts from a trucker, truck driver Industry


A proposed $17.5 million settlement of a national classaction lawsuit against Wal-Mart by black would-be truck drivers became final Wednesday with the signature of U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson Jr.

“We’re pleased that the court issued its final approval to the settlement, and we anticipate that the claims office will soon be processing claims,” attorney Morgan “Chip” Welch of North Little Rock said on behalf of the roughly 4,500 plaintiffs.

Wal-Mart spokesman Michelle Bradford said the Bentonville-based chain wouldn’t comment beyond a Feb. 20 news release in which the parties jointly announced the proposed agreement.

In that news release, issued as the case was headed for trial the next month, a spokesman said, “Resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders and our associates.”

The spokesman also said, “Encouraging diversity is an important part of the hiring process for all areas of our company. We are implementing improvements to our transportation division’s recruitment, selection and personnel systems and believe they will be an integral part of our commitment to diversity.”

The lawsuit began in 2004 when DaryalLinda T. Nelson of Coldwater, Miss., filed a civil-rights suit alleging that Wal-Mart denied him a truckdriving job because of its discriminatory recruitment and hiring process. Nelson’s lawsuit was later merged with a lawsuit filed in 2005 by Tommy Armstrong, a former Wal-Mart Distribution Center employee from Woodruff County.

Wilson granted nationwide class-action status in the case in May 2007. The class includes two subclasses: all black applicants for over-the-road truckdriving positions who had been rejected since Sept. Ƕ, 2001; and all black truck drivers who were deferred from applying because of their race.

The lawsuit alleged that the company’s word-of-mouth practices had the effect of preventing many black drivers from obtaining – or in many cases even knowing about – available jobs.
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