Boeing paying $4.5 million to settle federal bias claim

Friday, November 19th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) -- Less than three months after reaching a $15 million settlement in a bias lawsuit brought by black employees,
The Boeing Co. has agreed to pay a minimum $4.5 million over four years to end pay discrimination against salaried women and
minorities, Boeing and the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday.

"This agreement is one more step forward and will help us achieve our goal as being a workplace in which opportunity, dignity
and respect are not just words," James Dagnon, Boeing's vice president for personnel, said at a news conference at company
headquarters in Seattle.

Under the settlement, Boeing has agreed to pay $2.6 million in back pay and the rest of the $4.5 million in prospective pay adjustments at designated facilities. The company must spend more if necessary after a companywide review of its pay policies.

Most of the $4.5 million will go to salaried workers in Philadelphia, Huntsville, Ala., and Long Beach, Calif., but executives and salaried workers at corporate headquarters in
Seattle and in Wichita, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla., also could qualify for payments.

"This is the first agreement that obligates a federal contractor to conduct self-examinations, make across-the-board
salary adjustments at every facility and then report its results to the department," Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said in Washington,

She noted that the $4.5 million covers 10 Boeing facilities, but a pay review will be conducted at all 80 company sites. "That is why we are saying this is a floor and not a ceiling,"she said.

Dagnon said many of the company's locations have only a few employees, and he did not expect the agreement to cost significantly more.

"I don't believe this is the kind of thing that's going to have any significant impact on Boeing's earnings," he said. "It's business as usual. We want to pay competitive salaries."

The Labor Department estimates that 3,497 women and 4,631 minority workers at Boeing could be eligible for prospective salary
adjustments, and 8,400 minorities and 9,200 women could get back pay out of the initial settlement fund.

Boeing believes the numbers may be substantially lower, in part because Labor has not considered the 36,000 employees Boeing has cut over the last two years through layoffs and natural attrition, company spokeswoman Amanda Landers said. Boeing estimates that
4,400 women and 1,600 minorities may be eligible for salary adjustments, she said. The company and agency are working out the

Dagnon said adjustments will be calculated using a complex formula that includes education level, work experience, race and
gender, and he could not estimate how much individual employees might receive.

In September, a federal judge approved a $15 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by black past and present employees of Boeing.
Blacks who believe the settlement didn't do enough are appealing that ruling.

Still pending is a discrimination case filed against Boeing by nine Asian-American past and present employees. They have asked
that their lawsuit, like the one filed by blacks, be certified as a class action.

Dagnon said the company has been working aggressively to address workplace discrimination. "Over the past two years the company has been under a microscope, by employees, customers, shareholders, community and government leaders and the general public" on discrimination issues, he said.

Under the four-year agreement, the cash compensation would be available only to salaried and executive-level workers. However, union-represented wage earners could benefit from other provisions
of the settlement, which will require Boeing to measure the effects of layoffs on women and minorities as it continues a companywide
workforce reduction through next year.

The deal also requires Boeing to change the way its hiring decisions are made. The settlement arose from discrepancies reported by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in 10 standard reviews that are designed for monitoring compliance with laws and regulations governing federal contractors.

Without the agreement, the government could have imposed penalties including cancellation of contracts and barring Boeing from future federal contracts. Last year Boeing received $11 billion from federal work.