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LA Times to pay $3M to settle journalist discrimination case

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Times and Tribune Publishing have agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit that said minority journalists and women were paid less than white reporters.

Nearly 240 current and former reporters and editors will benefit from the settlement that was granted preliminary approval last month by a judge in San Bernardino County, the Times reported Tuesday.

The discrimination lawsuit, filed in June, alleged that the Times violated California’s Equal Pay Act and the state’s Business and Professions Code. The paper and its former owners denied the allegations and don’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing sold the Times to Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong in June 2018.

Earlier that year, Times journalists voted to join the News Guild, a unit of the Communications Workers of America, and the union demanded salary data for newsroom employees, the Times said.

The data showed that women and people of color were earning less than their white male colleagues, said Bettina Boxall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who became the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“This puts the company on notice that women and people of color have to be valued — and paid — just as much as white men,” she said.

The class-action settlement covers women, Black and Latino reporters and editors who worked at the Times from 2015 to this October. The settlement is expected to receive final court approval next March.

“The claims date back a number of years to previous ownership,” Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement and that the matter is headed toward a resolution.”

The Times said Tribune Publishing declined comment.

Earlier this year, staff members took leadership to task over what the paper called its historic neglect in covering communities of color and a failure to better diversify staff during the hiring surge.

In a Sept. 27 letter to readers, Patrick Soon-Shiong said the Times was committed to hiring more reporters and editors of color “and to building an organizational culture that truly values representation and equity.”

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