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Mineola, N.Y.�A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Xerox Corp. sales employees alleging that the company assigned them to unprofitable territories and failed to promote them because they are black has received class action status. Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York has affirmed a report by a magistrate judge recommending class action certification to six plaintiffs who claim that Xerox discriminated against black sales workers. Gleeson’s order advised the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not to consider Xerox’s interlocutory appeal of the class certification should it seek to file one. The ruling in Warren v. Xerox Corp., No. 01 CV 2909, means that all black Xerox sales employees who worked for the company in the United States from Feb. 1, 1997, to the present or to the date of a judgment are included in the class. While the decision allows the plaintiffs to go forward as a class on injunctive and declaratory claims, it requires them to proceed individually in the damages and remediation phase. The plaintiffs’ counsel estimates the class to include about 1,000 people who worked for the corporation selling copiers, printers and other document services. Representing the plaintiffs are Leeds, Morelli & Brown, based in Carle Place, N.Y., and Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in New York. Nixon Peabody attorney Eugene Ulterino in Rochester, N.Y., represents Xerox. 1997 restructuring program The lawsuit, filed in May 2001, claims that Xerox initiated a sales restructuring program in 1997 that violated federal civil rights law by systematically assigning black sales employees to inferior territories, often in low-income or minority neighborhoods. It also claims that the company refused to promote black sales people or transfer them to more lucrative territories regardless of their performance, and that the company denied sales commissions to those employees who rightfully earned them. According to Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann’s 39-page recommendation, Xerox had argued that in 1997 it began a “decentralized and multifaceted” process for sales assignments that was not based on race, and that any disparity in compensation was based on individual performance. Despite those arguments, Gleeson found that the plaintiffs, who have received right-to-sue letters from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, established their right to proceed as a class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

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