Staples Inc said it agreed to pay $42 million to settle several class-action lawsuits accusing the office supplies seller of misclassifying assistant store managers as exempt from overtime pay.

The company said the global settlement was subject to court approval. It did not, however, admit to any wrongdoing in connection with the allegations.

The settlement would resolve claims for damages dating back as far as 2002 and covers more than 5,500 current and former associates. The company said in a statement that it agreed to resolve the allegations to avoid further distraction.

Staples, which has also agreed to drop its appeal of a verdict against it last year in New Jersey, said the $42 million settlement would include amounts associated with the prior verdict.

Office supply retailers like Staples and smaller rivals Office Depot Inc and OfficeMax Inc were hit hard by the economic downturn, but Staples said in December that trends were improving.

Shares of Staples were up 0. percent at $23.81 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in New York and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles)