Lufkin Industries plans to appeal $6 Million ruling for Discriminating Against Blacks

Lufkin Industries on Tuesday vowed to "vigorously defend" itself against a federal judge's ruling that its hiring and promotion practices discriminated against hundreds of black employees. Officials said the ruling, if it stands, would cost the company as much as $6 million in back pay and interest. A decision entered last week by U.S. District Judge Howell Cobb found that the company discriminated against black employees when awarding initial assignments and promotions. Cobb concluded that the discrimination resulted in lost wages for the employees, and ordered the company to pay back those wages with interest. The judge's decision came in response to a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 700 black workers who have been employed with the company since 1994. The lawsuit alleged the workers were not only placed in low-end jobs in the company's foundry division, but also denied opportunities for additional training and routinely skipped over for promotions. White workers were given more desirable jobs in the company's power transmission division, and were also groomed for advancement into managerial positions, the lawsuit alleged. In a statement released Tuesday, Lufkin Industries said it believes an appeal of the judge's decision will show that the plaintiffs' claims haven't been established, and that the case should ultimately be dismissed. [more]