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The firm of Los Angeles attorney Johnnie L. Cochran has filed two new racediscrimination suits against Marietta, Ga.-based Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. One ofthe suits also names the International Association of Machinists and AerospaceWorkers as a defendant. The suits, filed Oct. 30 in federal court in Atlanta by Hezekiah Sistrunk Jr. ofAtlanta’s Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Sistrunk and Josie A. Alexander of Alexander & Associates, also in Atlanta, identify the plaintiffs as eight African-American current and former Lockheed workers. The plaintiffs allege that Lockheed discriminated against African-American employees in pay, promotions, layoffs and the granting of leaves of absence. The complaints also claim that white Lockheed managers fired or otherwise retaliated against black employees who complained of discriminatory treatment. And they claim that the company’s African-Americans were exposed to racially derogatory language as well as displays of a hangman’s noose and the Confederate flag, which the suit describes as symbols of racial oppression. The first suit — brought by five employees — names both Lockheed and its primaryunion, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Perry v. Lockheed Martin, No. 1:01-cv-2914 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 30, 2001.) The second suit, filed by three employees, names only Lockheed and its systems support subsidiary. Walls v. Lockheed, No. 1:01-cv-2915 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 30, 2001). According to the second complaint, the plaintiffs filed individual grievances with the union, complaining about discriminatory treatment. The union, the complaint alleged, failed to address them. The allegations in these complaints are virtually identical to allegations made in two suits filed last year by 11 African-American Lockheed employees who sought class certification. Reid v. Lockheed Martin, No. 1:00-cv-1182 (N.D. Ga. May 10, 2000). In that suit, the plaintiffs dropped their complaints against theunion local last May in return for promises to develop a diversity sensitivity program and human rights committee. In August, the proposed class suits, which also were filed by the Cochran andAlexander firms, suffered a setback when U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester of the Northern District of Georgia refused to grant class status to the plaintiffs. In a 60-page order, Forrester suggested that the discrimination complaint showed neither widespread racial discrimination nor a pattern of racist behavior on the part of Lockheed management. Neither Sistrunk nor Alexander were available for comment.

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