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Christian Coalition settles suit

The Associated Press

12/30/01

WASHINGTON - The Christian Coa1ition has settled a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by black employees. The suit claimed that the workers were denied health benefits and overtime pay, had to enter the organization's Washington headquarters by the back door and were forced to eat in a segregated area.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. "The matter has been resolved amicably,' George Dounmr, ~ Washington lawyer who represented the employees, said Friday. Downer said he was not allowed to make any further comment.

Ten black women filed the suit in February. They worked in the coalition's data-entry and remittance departments, opening mail, tabulating donations and entering them into a computer database. The women claimed they were subjected to "Jim Crow-style racial discrimination," including being told to use the back door because Executive Director Roberta Combs didn't want "important people" seeing them in the reception area.

They also said they were forced to use a segregated break room and were excluded from the coalition Christmas party and events related to President Bush's inauguration. They later filed an amended complaint alleging that the coalition retaliated against them for bringing the suit. Five more employees joined the amended suit, including a white man who said he was fired because hp refused to spy on his black co-workers.

In July, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the employees had shown they were likely to prevail in the case and issued an injunction ordering the coalition not to retaliate against them. Combs was unavailable for comment Friday. She had previously denied the workers' allegations, characterizing the lawsuit as an attempt to embarrass and extort money from the coalition. The settlement comes three weeks after founder Pat Robertson resigned from the grass-roots religious lobby, saying he was getting out of politics to concentrate on his Virginia Beach-based broadcast ministry and Christian university.

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