Women Renew Wal-Mart Bias Suit

Betty Dukes
Betty Dukes

Former female workers for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have renewed their claims of sex discrimination in promotion and pay by the world’s largest retailer.  The suit is the fourth version, and reduced in size from millions of women in the original case to 95,000 in a California regional suit.  The decade-old long battle to certify the largest employment discrimination class action went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last year and went against the women because of the size of the class.

But attorney Brad Seligman says he has new evidence against Wal-Mart and a reduced class size for the class.

The suit alleges a long-standing “good old boy philosophy” within the company and claims many managers are closed minded about workplace diversity.

The suit states that in 2004 Wal-Mart CEO Thomas Coughlin told managers at a national meeting that the key to success is “single focus to get the job done” and that “women tend to be better at information processing. Men are better at single focus objective.”

Managers were told to create a “culture of execution” and a “culture of results” as they picked leaders, according to the lawsuit.

Seligman said this is the first in a series of geographic cases that will be filed, against Wal-Mart based on “evidence we have” of systematic discrimination.  The Supreme Court found the original lawsuit claiming a class of potentially millions of women was too large and too varied to survive as a class action.
The new lawsuit amends the complaint in the earlier version to allege women in the California region of Wal-Mart were subjected the gender-based discrimination through denial of equal pay for salaried manager positions, denial of equal opportunity for promotions and denial of equal pay in retail store positions.

The class may include as many as 95,000 women, according to the lawsuit.

Betty Dukes, an African-American woman living on Contra Costa County remains the lead plaintiff in the case and is still employed by the Pleasanton Wal-Mart.

Case:  Dukes v. Wal-Mart Inc., No. 01-cv-2252CRB

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