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Ala. Settles Part of Bias Case

September 29, 2001

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ The Alabama Department of Transportation has agreed to pay about $60 million to settle part of a long-running racial bias case.

Under the settlement approved by a judge Wednesday, about 2,400 blacks who currently or previously worked at the agency will share about $46 million because of discriminating in hiring and promotions.

An undetermined number of whites at the agency who intervened will split $8.4 million.

The money is to come from state funds in an escrow account the court required several years ago.

DOT director Paul Bowlin said the settlement ends a big part of the court fight, although tests for hirings and promotions still need to be approved.

State officials in 1994 signed a consent decree, agreeing to set up race-neutral hiring and promotion practices at DOT. But in January 2000, all parties agreed the state had failed to abide by it.

``This is something that has been going on for a number of years and has obviously has had some negative effects on our department,″ Bowlin said.

Robert Wiggins, a Birmingham lawyer representing blacks who filed the lawsuit, said an unresolved claim by about 28,000 black applicants for DOT jobs will also ``have to be resettled or have to go to trial.″

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