Shipyard, plaintiffs propose sex-discrimination settlement

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Plaintiffs in a gender-discrimination lawsuit filed against a Norfolkshipyard have asked a federal judge to give preliminary approval to a settlement.

A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2013 by women working at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair Inc. The shipyard helps maintain and modernize U.S. Navy warships, and performs work for other government agencies and private companies.

The women say in the lawsuit that they suffered pay and promotion discrimination, were retaliated against, and experienced sexual harassment. BAE denies any wrongdoing, but the settlement is unopposed by the company.

“The Settlement represents a compromise and settlement of highly disputed claims,” attorneys for BAE said in a court filing on Monday. “Nothing in the Settlement is intended or will be construed as an admission by BAE Systems that Plaintiffs’ claims in the lawsuit have merit or that BAE Systems has any liability to Plaintiffs or the proposed class.”

If approved by the court, the settlement would share $3 million among 177 women who worked at the shipyard from Oct. 5, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2014.

It would also require that promotion decisions be based on job related criteria, such as practical and written tests. It would prohibit supervisors from imposing additional subjective requirements.

“BAE Systems values all our employees and is committed to treating each and every one fairly and with respect,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “BAE Systems remains dedicated to ensuring an inclusive and diverse workplace.”

About 2,200 people work at the shipyard on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River.

“The women who brought this case showed incredible courage and leadership. We hope this settlement will be a game changer, not only at BAE, but other shipyards” Joshua Friedman, an attorney representing the women, said in a statement.

The settlement calls for BAE to pay $1 million to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and make other payments to some plaintiffs.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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