updated 10/24/2005 7:05:39 PM ET 2005-10-24T23:05:39

FedEx Freight East will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over allegations that the company discriminated against black dockworkers in St. Louis, the EEOC said Monday.

FedEx Freight East is a subsidiary of Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp., which acquired American Freightways in 2001.

FedEx Freight said that in settling the case, it is not admitting discrimination against black employees, and in fact, denies it. The company, noting it does not tolerate discrimination in the workplace, said the alleged events occurred before FedEx acquired American Freightways in 2001.

The EEOC sued in 2003 on behalf of 20 blacks who worked for American Freightways Inc. at the time of the alleged bias. The EEOC said blacks were denied promotions from part-time to full-time jobs at the company’s trucking terminal in St. Louis. Another was denied promotion to a supervisory position.

When the suit was filed in September 2003, attorney Jerome Dobson said the delays had significant effects on black workers who were seeking more hours, better routes and pay, and promotion opportunities. Meanwhile, he said, white workers “leapfrogged” over the black workers.

Six black dockworkers joined in the lawsuit and the settlement. In addition to the $500,000 settlement, which must still be approved by federal District Court, FedEx will be required to report on promotions to full-time dockworker positions and to dock supervisor positions.

“We are pleased that FedEx corrected the problems at its St. Louis terminal after it acquired American Freightways and now has reached a fair resolution of this lawsuit,” said Robert Johnson, attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis office.

“Unfortunately, 40 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act, the EEOC continues to see cases of race discrimination against African Americans.”

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