Sprint settles discrimination suit for $57M

Sprint Nextel announced it will pay a total of $57 million to settle a class-action lawsuit, which alleged the carrier targeted older workers during layoffs. The settlement will be split among 1,697 former employees who received pink slips between Oct. 1, 2001 and March 31, 2003. As part of the settlement, Sprint acknowledges no wrongdoing. The suit, which was filed in 2003, claims that Sprint illegally transitioned workers aged 40 and older to positions that were then downsized. U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum must decide if the agreement is reasonable, and if he does, the plaintiffs will need to approve it, too.

The 11 lead plaintiffs for the lawsuit are set to receive an average of $155,000 each, while the remaining 1,686 plaintiffs will split $34.3 million, or an average payout of about $20,332 each. The plaintiffs' attorneys will rake in a healthy $19.4 million in fees as well as an additional $1.65 million to confirm the settlement.

The settlement marks the second for Sprint during the past year: Last May the carrier agreed to pay $5.5 million to 462 former employees in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta.

For more on Sprint's settlement:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)