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Judge Postpones Coke Suit Deadline

May 31, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ The federal judge in the race discrimination lawsuit against The Coca-Cola Co. Tuesday gave plaintiffs another two weeks to file a key document explaining why the case should be expanded to include about 2,000 current and former black employees.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Cyrus Mehri had said he would not file the class certification brief by Tuesday’s deadline because settlement talks are under way.

The suit, filed by eight current and former Coke employees, claims Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has discriminated against blacks in pay, promotions and performance evaluations. The company has denied the allegations and is fighting efforts to have the suit declared a class action, enveloping 2,000 plaintiffs.

In granting an extension until June 14, U.S. District Judge Richard Story noted the case is before a mediator who had requested the plaintiffs be given more time.

Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Deutsch said the company would have no comment other than it continues ``to work toward an equitable and timely resolution of the lawsuit.″

Larry Jones, a former Coca-Cola manager and the chief organizer of a boycott of company products aimed at pressuring Coca-Cola to settle the suit, said the protesters believed that the extension resulted from a company delaying tactic.

About 12 protesters picketed in front of Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta Tuesday morning.

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