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Bell Atlantic Workers Allege Racial Discrimination

September 21, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nearly 50 black current and former employees of Bell Atlantic Corp. filed a $500 million lawsuit alleging the company discriminates against black workers in job placement, training and promotions.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, said the telecommunications giant has ``engaged in extreme and outrageous behavior ... through repeatedly dehumanizing and degrading″ black workers.

Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Shannon Fioravanti declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying she had not seen it.

The company was ``very proud″ of its success at hiring women and minorities, she said. ``We feel that we are well represented in our ranks and in key leadership positions in the corporation.″

The 48 workers who filed the suit alleged the company failed to promote, train and evaluate black employees on an equal basis with white employees.

They also complained of racially discriminatory remarks by white employees, harassment of a black worker for joining a union, harsher punishment for black employees than for whites who were late for work and lower starting salaries for black workers than for their white counterparts in the same jobs at the company.

Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic serves the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. It employes 67,000 people.

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