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A Houston lawyer will serve as a court-appointed ombudsman to monitor a venerable Texas company that has been cited for discriminating against black employees.

Tony P. Rosenstein, an employment lawyer with the Houston firm Baker Botts, will investigate complaints from Lufkin Industries employees and act to resolve them, according to an injunction issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark of Beaumont.

The injunction is part of the resolution of a class-action lawsuit brought against the 107-year-old company by black workers 12 years ago.

Clark ruled last June that Lufkin Industries' more than 1,000 current and former black employees are due to divvy up back pay and interest of approximately $5.5 million. The judge awarded the damages as compensation for what he called the company's unlawful discrimination in awarding promotions.

Lufkin Industries, publicly traded since 1990, manufactures oil field equipment and industrial gearboxes. It employs about 1,200 in Lufkin, a city of 33,000 about 120 miles northeast of Houston, making it one of the area's largest employers.



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