The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Wednesday said it found reason to believe that Freddie Mac discriminated against black employees.

In a "letter of determination," the agency said it found evidence that Freddie Mac showed "disregard for the civil rights of black employees has resulted in a hostile work environment." The Aug. 12 letter was signed by EEOC director Tulio L. Diaz Jr.

A Freddie Mac spokeswoman said the EEOC's findings were "unfounded."

The case stems from charges filed with the commission by Tony Morgan, a former Freddie Mac employee who is African-American. The EEOC's determination sets the stage for a "conciliation process," in which the EEOC would work with Freddie Mac and Mr. Morgan to resolve the conflict through "informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion," the letter said.

The new finding of class-based discrimination also allows Mr. Morgan to amend a suit he brought under federal antidiscrimination law, according to Debra S. Katz, his attorney. He filed a $125 million race discrimination class action against Freddie Mac on June 3, a case that was publicized by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

Disputing the EEOC's findings, a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac said 13% of Freddie's employees are African-American, and 26% of the African-Americans are in management, percentages that she said are higher than the industry.

A civil suit filed last year by the EEOC on the basis of Mr. Morgan's claims, was denied a request for a preliminary injunction in a federal court, the Freddie Mac spokeswoman said. The judge said Freddie was displaying "genuine intent" and was conducting a reasonable investigation, she said.

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