Big Bakery Must Pay for Racial Discrimination

August 9, 2000

A San Francisco Superior Court decided last week that Interstate Brands Corp. (IBC), the nation’s largest wholesale baker, racially discriminated against some of its African-American workers.

The jury decided that the bakery oppressed and denied promotions to 17 black workers in its San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Clara plants. The punitive damages: $120 million. Twenty-one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in 1998, were rewarded more than $11 million for lost wages, pain and suffering caused by discrimination in the company.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 17 of those workers were entitled to ask for punitive damages due to the “malice and oppression” with which they were treated. The Kansas City-based company, which makes Twinkies, HoHos, Dingdongs and Wonder Bread, has announced it will appeal the decision.

Business Insurance reported that the bakery does not have employment practices liability insurance to cover the loss. IBC senior vice president and CFO Frank Coffey declined to comment on the situation. According to the SF Chronicle, the award falls slightly short of the landmark $176-million Texaco Inc. discrimination settlement four years ago.

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