Columbus, Ohio Kroger Co. has agreed to pay $16 million to settle a race-discrimination lawsuit brought by 12 current and former employees, according to a memo from the chain's chairman and CEO David Dillon.
The workers claimed in the 2001 federal lawsuit that Kroger blocked promotions of black employees and paid them less than white employees, according to the Associated Press.
A judge hasn't yet approved any agreement in the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville, Ky., in 2001 by employees in six states on behalf of blacks working for Kroger nationwide since 1998.
On Tuesday, Dillon sent a memo to about 1,500 employees stating that the money-minus attorney fees and administration costs-will be placed in a fund and disbursed among black employees who meet certain criteria.
"We take our commitment to inclusion and our policies against discrimination very seriously," Dillon wrote. "The plaintiffs ... obviously felt strongly that the company was not treating them fairly or respectfully. No one in our company should feel this way."
The lawsuit seeks to change Kroger's hiring, promotion and compensation practices. The workers also requested back pay, preferential consideration for jobs and damages for lost pay and benefits.
Dillon said there has been no finding that Kroger engaged in discrimination.