[JURIST] US District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel [official profile] has approved the settlement of a civil rights lawsuit [materials] between Ford Motor Company [corporate website] and its black employees, granting these employees access to an apprenticeship program. In February, the court granted preliminary approval of the class action settlement and finalized the deal on Wednesday following a June 1 fairness hearing. The lawsuit, filed in 1998, alleged discrimination against black employees who took an application test for the apprenticeship program, which trains unskilled laborers for higher paying and more secure jobs. Under the agreement, Ford denies any liability or discrimination and agreed to set aside 279 positions in the program for blacks and to pay $2,400 to 3,400 current and former Ford employees. BusinessWeek has more.