Lufkin Industries ordered to mail lawsuit checks - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lufkin Industries ordered to mail lawsuit checks

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

The wait for justice has dragged on for 15 years. But now, closure is near in a discrimination case against a major East Texas employer. Thirteen Lufkin Industries employees, all minorities, joined together in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. After winning the case and an appeal, they've waited for compensation.

"Change does not take place by running away. Someone has to stay," said retired Lufkin Industries worker, Sylvester McClain.

After 15 years of lawsuits and appeals, McClain says he's finally seeing justice. The retired Lufkin Industries supervisor first filed an EEOC complaint against the company in 1995. He claims the company would not allow him to advance because of his race.

"There was not equal opportunity for job employment. There was not equal treatment. There was not equal justice," said McClain.

Last Tuesday, US District Judge Ron Clark ruled it was time to distribute back pay to McClain and 12 other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"This is the most dramatic part. We've got the court. Last week, the court ordered the distribution of about $5.5 million after 15 years of litigation," said McClain's attorney, Tim Garrigan.

After a judge ruled against Lufkin Industries in the first case, an appeals court later upheld the decision that the workers should be compensated for discrimination.

"It was such a lengthy case because basically Lufkin Industries drug their feet. They stalled, delayed," said McClain.

McClain says he never gave up fighting because change needed to happen.

"All we wanted was a fair chance, and that's what this lawsuit was all about. And, I think it was worth it," said McClain.

"It's probably more symbolic than actually all the money these people deserve. But, it's a big step," said Garrigan.

Garrigan says Lufkin Industries will pay out around $5.5 million by May 23.

Lufkin Industries officials did not return calls for comment.

Mcclain worked 36 years at Lufkin Industries before retiring in 2008. His attorneys say there will be an injunction for a couple more years, monitoring Lufkin Industries' treatment of employees.

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