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A judge has granted class status in a federal lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in which the company is accused of discriminating against black applicants for jobs driving Wal-Mart trucks.

In his ruling Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark., U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. said drivers at Wal-Mart were recruited largely through word-of-mouth and applicants would be screened by a committee of drivers. The judge noted none of the committees at Wal-Mart’s various hiring sites had a majority of African Americans and some had no blacks, despite a company rule that the panels be 50 percent diverse.

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