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Judge OKs Xerox Case Class-Action Status

March 26, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge has cleared the way for hundreds of potential plaintiffs to join a lawsuit that accuses Xerox Corp. of discriminating against black employees.

In an order issued earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson gave class action status to the civil rights suit.

Eligible to file claims are ``all black Xerox sales representatives who have been, continue to be or may in the future be affected by Xerox’s alleged pattern and practice of racial discrimination in assignments of sales territories, promotions and compensation,″ the judge wrote in an order dated March 11.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Barry Weprin, said the ruling showed that the judge believes they have a strong case. He estimated the class could number 1,000.

A call to a Xerox spokesperson was not immediately returned. The company, based in Stamford, Conn., has denied any wrongdoing.

The suit, filed in 2001 in federal court in Brooklyn, was brought on behalf of six black sales representatives from New York, California, Texas and Georgia and had sought class-action status for hundreds of others.

The plaintiffs claimed they were assigned to less profitable territories than white co-workers, or were assigned to territories based on their race. They also contend they were passed over for more lucrative territories, promotions, and were denied commissions they had earned.

The suit cites the case of Frank Warren, a black man who was assigned a territory in the Bronx that required a car. When he notified Xerox that the territory would pose a hardship because he did not have a car, he allegedly was told by a vice president-general manager that he was assigned to the Bronx because ``blacks and the Bronx go hand in hand.″

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