Space Suit Settled

May 7, 2002 ( - NASA has agreed to pay $3.75 million to 100 black workers who claim the space agency denied them promotions because of their race.

The settlement grows out of a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1993 on behalf of scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia, according to an Associated Press account.

While Goddard officials formally admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to take another look at the workers’ promotion requests. Goddard also agreed to put together diversity and employee development programs.

“We think it provides tremendous relief economically…as well as providing a very good blueprint for how things should operate in the future, benefiting all employees at NASA Goddard,” workers’ lawyer Maia Caplan told the AP.

Independent experts also will review Goddard’s system for determining promotions and handling employee appraisals, as well as its process for mediating equal employment opportunity complaints.

Dorothy Kerr, an attorney for Goddard, told the AP that the parties “agreed to disagree” about whether there was any discrimination.

“We just looked at the issues and the fact that this process could go on for another 10 years and said let’s acknowledge our differences and move on,” she said.