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Panera Franchisee Settles Pa. Suit by Black Worker

 Panera Bread Company
(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMG)

PITTSBURGH (AP) – An Ohio franchisee who runs several western Pennsylvania Panera Bread stores has agreed to pay more than $76,000 to settle discrimination claims by current and former black employees.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster has told attorneys for Guy Vines, the black worker who sued in January, and Covelli Enterprises, the Warren, Ohio franchisee, to advertise the settlement, which he preliminarily approved Monday.

Vines sued claiming he was denied promotions and made to work in the kitchen because company owner Sam Covelli didn’t want black employees in areas where the public was served. About 200 to 300 black workers may be entitled to money.

Covelli continues to deny wrongdoing, but is settling to avoid the costs of defending the case.

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