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Suit says seat-belt factory was run `like a plantation'

A seat-belt factory with a nearly all-black workforce was run "like a plantation" by its white managers, according to a $500 million discrimination lawsuit filed by the company's employees.

"We had attempted to get the company to do the right thing, but we feel they are stonewalling, so we're going to have to shake them loose," said attorney Richard A. Jones, who filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of up to 1,000 current and former Autoliv Inc. employees.The U.S. District Court suit filed Aug. 6 alleges James Ross, a vice president, and Peter Ludlum, a supervisor, and two other white managers made frequent racial slurs, including calling black workers "niggers."

Black employees also were paid less, disciplined more harshly and sometimes fired because of their race, the lawsuit claims.

The company, based in Rochester Hills, Mich., denies any discrimination. Its lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the suit.