CINCINNATI (AP) — Ford Motor Co., two related companies and the United Auto Workers will pay $1.6 million and provide other relief to settle a race-discrimination lawsuit, a federal agency said Thursday.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in the class-action suit that a written test used by Ford, Visteon Corp. and Automotive Components Holdings to determine eligibility of hourly employees for a skilled trades apprenticeship program discriminated against blacks.
The United Auto Workers was a defendant because the test was used to select apprentices in the joint Ford-UAW program and people affected by the settlement are covered by the union agreement.
A Ford spokeswoman said Thursday that the company does not believe the test was discriminatory.
''It was approved by EEOC when it was developed,'' Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said. ''However, Ford favors the settlement because it is in the company's and the public's best interest to work toward developing the best possible test.''
Automotive Components Holdings is a temporary business entity managed by Ford. Telephone messages seeking comment from the UAW and Visteon were left Thursday at their headquarters.
The settlement includes about $1.6 million for the 700 class members nationwide who have taken the test since Jan. 1, 1997 and were not placed on the Ford apprentice list at the former Visteon facilities. The settlement also places 55 black test takers on the apprentice lists and requires development of a new selection method by a jointly selected expert with detailed reporting and monitoring.
''We are pleased this settlement will address the serious problems of selection criteria that result in racial minorities receiving fewer job opportunities,'' EEOC Chairwoman Naomi Earp said in a statement Thursday.
The settlement received preliminary court approval Sept. 9 and was pending final approval by U.S. District Court Judge S. Arthur Spiegel in Cincinnati after a fairness hearing Thursday.
The lawsuit is a successor case to an earlier EEOC suit filed in Cincinnati against Ford and the UAW. That suit settled for $9.2 million in 2005 covered 3,400 people, Daniel J. Cabot, director of the agency's Cleveland field office, said. The latest settlement covers people who weren't included in the earlier one.
The lawsuits were filed in Cincinnati because the case started with complaints in 1998 by employees at Ford plants in suburban Sharonville and Batavia.