On July 8, a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson Jr., approved a $17.5 million settlement in a national class action lawsuit, involving retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and black would-be truck drivers, according to the Associated Press.

Per Nwanews.com, the civil-rights lawsuit, which began in 2004, was filed because Wal-Mart allegedly denied a black applicant a truck driving job. The plaintiff said the company had a discriminatory recruitment and hiring process. Later, the lawsuit merged with other cases against the retail chain.

In May 2007, Wilson granted nationwide class action status in the case. Therefore, the suit involved two subclasses: all black applicants who were rejected from over-the-road truck driving positions since Sept. 22, 2001; and all black truck drivers who were deferred from applying because of race.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that many black drivers were prevented from obtaining or knowing about available jobs due to Wal-Mart's word-of-mouth practices.

According to Nwanews.com, the plaintiffs in the first subclass will divide the $17.5 million based on method that considers the number of years each was rejected. Furthermore, the settlement includes "incentive rewards."

For the second subclass, a claims administrator placed advertisement in magazine and on radio stations known to have black audiences for 60 days. From that advertising, as many as 4,500 plaintiffs were identified.

For its part, Wal-Mart refused to comment beyond a Feb. 20 press release it issued when the settlement proposal was revealed.

In addition to the payout, Wal-Mart must:

  • provide priority job placements to 23 class members
  • establish benchmark hiring goals so the structure of future hires is proportionate to racial composition of the applicants
  • select a diversity recruiter
  • enhance recruitment efforts and advertising targeted at blacks