Fed Up With Lack of Diversity, Coca-Cola Employee Files Class Claim

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On February 22, 2017, a disgruntled employee of The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England filed a proposed class suit against the company in Connecticut federal court, alleging discriminatory promotion practices, specifically at the management level.

 Named plaintiff, Carlos Aponte Jr., states in the complaint that he began working for the company in September 1996 and since that time had worked his way up the corporate ladder from warehouse worker to bulk account manager. However, Aponte argues that the account management position is the highest attainable by non-white employees due to Coca-Cola’s discriminatory practices. Plaintiff claims that his district manager had twice recommended Aponte for a management position only for the position to be filled by a less-qualified white male candidate. Aponte claims he was fed up by the apparent racism and sexism in the company’s promotion policy, so he took his grievances to the company president, Mark Francoeur, during a December 2016 employee town hall meeting.

Plaintiff claims that he stood up during the discussion and asked Francoeur why white men consistently filled the majority of management positions. In response, Francoeur allegedly replied lightly that because most of the company’s customers were white the company was mostly white. The defendant maintains that Francoeur did not say this. Aponte stated that after the town hall meeting, he wrote a letter to the company’s president to relate how embarrassed he had been by Francoeur’s caviler attitude towards the very real diversity issue. Francoeur replied via email denying that he ever made the damning statements.

The case is: Carlos Aponte Jr. The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England Inc., Case No.: 3:17-cv-00315, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut

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