Ford Settles Discrimination Suit over Apprenticeship Program

January 5, 2005 ( - Ford Motor Co. has agreed to a settlement over allegations of discrimination against black employees regarding an apprenticeship training program.

The settlement still must be approved by a federal judge, however, according to the Associated Press (AP). The automobile maker is not admitting guilt with the settlement, but has agreed to pay restitution to 3,400 black employees at its manufacturing plants nationwide, as well as set aside positions for them and pay legal fees. The company must also create a new selection program that will treat minority applicants fairly and that is monitored by an industrial psychologist.

The apprenticeship program allowed Ford workers to learn skills for a higher paying job within the company. It was stopped in August, according to a company spokesman, after the issues were raised.

The settlement could cost the company $10 million, according to the AP, which includes $2,400 to current and former employees harmed by the selection procedure and $30,000 to the original plaintiffs. Ford will also pay $1.1 million to cover all court costs and attorney’s fees.

There were actually two suits brought against the company in federal court – one by the employees, and one by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The employees went to the EEOC in 1998, and the Commission helped negotiate the eventual settlement. Also named in the suits was the United Auto Workers union, which represents Ford workers and who has an interest in the selection process, according to the AP.

The AP also reports that the two federal judges looking at the separate cases may ultimately decide to combine them when looking the settlement, for which a date has not yet been set.