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Comcast pays $7.2M to settle racial discrimination suit by Chicago techs

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Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) will pay $7.21 million to settle a class-action suit filed by African-American technicians who claim the MSO discriminated against them at a Chicago facility.

In their 2011 Illinois federal court complaint, the techs claimed Comcast fostered an environment of unfair performance evaluations, shoddy work conditions and tolerance for racist comments. The settlement was reported on by Law360. In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that the South Side-based 112th Street facility had conditions that were noticeably inferior to other Illinois Comcast centers serving more suburban-oriented customer bases.

The plaintiffs said that managers of these other facilities referred to them as "ghetto tech[s], dumb black people and thugs."

"The complaint was in regard to allegations from as far back as 2005," Jack A. Segal, Comcast's vice president of communications, said in a statement. "We settled the case in an effort to avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation and put the matter behind us so that we can focus on our business and our employees."

Under terms of the settlement, Comcast will pay $3.6 million for claims made by African-American employees who worked at Comcast's 112th Street facility between Jan. 1, 2005 to the preliminary agreement on the settlement -- a group of about 350 workers, all told, that excludes managers.

Twelve named plaintiffs, meanwhile, will receive $50,000 in claims payments. And another $3 million of the settlement will cover attorneys cost.

Comcast said it will also make it easier for employees to complain about racial discrimination in the workplace. The MSO said is renovating the Chicago facility, and has eliminated a disciplinary plan that the workers said held them back from advancement.

For more:
- read this Law360 story (sub. req.)

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