updated 7/16/2004 6:13:38 PM ET 2004-07-16T22:13:38

Boeing Co. said that it will pay up to $72.5 million as part of the settlement of a 2000 lawsuit that accused the aerospace company of gender discrimination.

A federal judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement on Friday.

The class-action suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle in February 2000, alleged that Boeing had denied women equal pay and other employment opportunities based on their gender.

Boeing said it will pay out between $40.6 million and $72.5 million, depending upon how many members of the class file a valid claim. In 2001, the court denied a request to include female Boeing employees nationwide and limited the class to about 29,000 women who worked for Boeing in the Seattle area starting in 1997.

The plaintiffs and the company agreed to settle the monetary aspects of the case in mid-May and have since been negotiating the remaining terms, Boeing said.

"This agreement contains several enhancements related to performance evaluations, salary reviews, promotions and other employee relations practices," said Laurette Koellner, executive vice president of internal services.

The judge's approval is subject to a final hearing to review the fairness of the settlement after members have had a chance to submit objections, Boeing said.

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