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WASHINGTON (AFP) – A U.S. judge has ordered Bank of America to pay nearly $2.2 million for discriminating against African-American job seekers, in a case that has been ongoing for nearly two decades.

The judge in North Carolina determined the bank had used “unfair and inconsistent” hiring practices for teller and entry-level clerical and administrative jobs, blocking qualified African-American applicants from getting jobs, the U.S. labor department said in statement Monday.

The payout will be shared among more than 1,100 such applicants. About half the settlement will be shared among just over 1,000 applicants who were rejected for jobs in 1993, and the rest will go to 113 people who applied between 2002 and 2005.

The bank was also ordered to offer jobs to 10 of the plaintiffs “as positions become available.”

“Wherever doors of opportunity are unfairly closed to workers, we will be there to open them – no matter how long it takes,” said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the labor department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

“These workers deserve to get the full measure of what is owed to them,” Shiu added.

The bank is federally-insured, making it a federal contractor and thus under the authority of the agency, the statement said.

Photo Credit: AFP/Scott Olson

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.