Boeing Settles Bias Claim for $4.5M
ALICE ANN LOVE
Nov. 19, 1999
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Boeing Co. will pay at least $4.5 million under a four-year agreement with the government to end salary discrimination against women and minorities, the Labor Department said today.
Under the settlement, Boeing has agreed to pay $2.6 million in back pay and the rest of the $4.5 million in prospective pay adjustments at designated facilities. But the company must spend more if necessary after a companywide review of its pay policies.
``This is a floor and not a ceiling,'' Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said of the settlement figure. ``What Boeing has agreed to do is have this review apply to all of its facilities and to make the necessary adjustments.''
The Labor Department estimates that 3,497 women and 4,631 minority workers at Boeing could be eligible to collect back pay, and 8,400 minorities and 9,200 women could get prospective salary adjustments out of the initial settlement fund.
The cash compensation would be available only to salaried and executive-level workers. However, union-represented wage earners could benefit from other provisions of the settlement, which will require Boeing to measure the impact of layoffs on women and minorities as it continues a companywide work-force reduction through next year.
The deal also requires Boeing to change the way its hiring decisions are made.
Herman said the sweeping agreement with Boeing could mark a change from the piecemeal way the government has generally dealt with discrimination complaints in the past.
``This is the first agreement that obligates a federal contractor to conduct self-examinations, make across-the-board salary adjustments at every facility and then report its results to the department,'' she said.
Government complaints against Boeing had followed discrimination lawsuits filed by blacks and Asian-Americans. In resolving the complaints, Boeing did not admit violating any federal laws.
Most of the $4.5 million will go to salaried workers in Philadelphia, Huntsville, Ala., and Long Beach, Calif., but executives and salaried workers at corporate headquarters in Seattle and in Wichita, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla., also could qualify for payments.
Boeing's vice president for personnel, James B. Dagnon, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the settlement ``establishes a partnership between us and the government.''
``This agreement (is) a yardstick that we both now have agreed on that we can apply to the company to ensure fairness and equity,'' Dagnon said.
Dagnon told the newspaper he could not estimate the cost of policy changes under the settlement, which are in addition to the direct payments, but added, ``We are not concerned about this having significant financial impact on the company.''
The settlement arose from discrepancies reported by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in 10 standard reviews that are designed for monitoring compliance with laws and regulations governing federal contractors.
Without the agreement, the government could have imposed penalties including cancellation of contracts and barring Boeing from future federal contracts. Last year Boeing received $11 billion from federal work.
In September a federal judge approved a $15 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by black past and present employees of Boeing. Blacks who believe the settlement didn't do enough are appealing that ruling.
Still pending is a discrimination case filed against Boeing by nine Asian-American past and present employees. They have asked that their lawsuit, like the one filed by blacks, be certified as a class action.