Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to settle a pending discrimination lawsuit in the US, which the company denies.

Under the agreement Wal-Mart will pay US$17.5m in an agreement to settle claims asserted in a class action lawsuit entitled Daryal Nelson and Tommy Armstrong v Wal-Mart Inc and Wal-Mart Transportation LLC, which is pending in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that Wal-Mart had discriminated against African Americans on the basis of race in recruitment and hiring for the position of over-the road truck driver in Wal-Mart's private fleet.

Wal-Mart denied that it engaged in any policy or pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination, or other unlawful conduct.

The settlement is subject to approval by the court.

"Resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders and our associates," said Daphne Moore, spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores. "Encouraging diversity is an important part of the hiring process for all areas of our company. We are implementing improvements to our transportation division's recruitment, selection and personnel systems and believe they will be an integral part of our commitment to diversity."

Wal-Mart's Logistics Division has also agreed other measures in the settlement, including to provide priority job placements to 23 of the class members and direct notice of all future job opportunities.

"We are very pleased with the settlement," said Hank Bates, with the law firm of Carney, Williams, Bates, Bozeman & Pulliam, PLLC, an attorney representing the class of African-American truck drivers. "This is an excellent result for the class both in terms of the $17.5m in monetary relief and in terms of Wal-Mart's commitments to job placements, equal opportunity and enhanced recruitment efforts moving forward."