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More Texaco employees want in on the settlement

February 7, 1997

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ Six black hourly and salaried workers at Texaco have asked a judge to include them in the company’s proposed $176 million settlement of a racial discrimination lawsuit.

The settlement excludes ``arguably the group most in need of a voice _ African-Americans who toil in lower-level salaried and hourly positions who have been denied promotions,″ according to court papers filed Wednesday.

Dan Berger, a lawyer for the 1,300 current and former salaried minority employees who won the settlement, said he opposes the move.

``We never intended to represent hourly employees,″ he said.

``Ours was essentially a glass-ceiling promotion case. The universe of people that claimed they were victims of the racially discriminatory practices were salaried employees, subject to the ... evaluation process,″ he said. ``That’s not to say they shouldn’t sue on their own.″

However, he said he would oppose their motion.

Texaco spokesman Jim Swords said the company had not seen the papers and therefore had no comment.

Of the workers who filed the motion, five are paid hourly and one is a salaried worker not covered by the Texaco Merit Salary Program, which was criticized in the lawsuit as a ``good old boy″ network that reserved the best promotions and biggest raises for whites.

Possibly 300 other workers were in the same circumstances, the court documents said.

Bob Weininger, who represents the excluded workers, said the original complaint was filed for black Texaco employees ``who have held or who have tried to obtain managerial, supervisory or professional positions.″

His clients relied on the plaintiffs and their attorneys to protect their interests, Weininger wrote in the motion.

``They are shocked that the plaintiffs and their attorneys are attempting to throw them overboard at the last moment,″ he wrote.

The salaried employees sued Texaco in 1994, claiming the company engaged in racist practices. Texaco settled the case in November after several executives were caught on audiotape belittling black employees and suggesting the destruction of papers relevant to the lawsuit.

Texaco fired one executive in January, kept another on suspension and dropped benefits for two retirees for their secretly recorded comments.

If approved by a federal judge, the settlement would include lump-sum payments averaging about $60,000 to the original plaintiffs.

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