updated 9/23/2004 11:12:22 AM ET 2004-09-23T15:12:22

Wal-Mart has been sued in federal court by a man who claims the world's largest retailer discriminates against blacks in 12 Southern states from seeking truck-driving jobs.

The plaintiff, Daryal T. Nelson, of Coldwater, Miss., alleges that Wal-Mart rejects and discourages black applicants for truck-driving jobs at the chain's distribution centers in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission document attached to the complaint found "reasonable cause" to believe Nelson, a 22-year veteran of driving trucks, was discriminated against. The EEOC said Wal-Mart hired some white drivers with more serious driving violations and less experience than black applicants.

Gus Whitcomb, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said Wednesday that he couldn't comment on the lawsuit because he hadn't seen it. However, he said, "We do not discriminate in our hiring practices."

The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks class-action status.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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