WOMEN PRESENT EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD DISCRIMINATION AT WAL-MART; ASK JUDGE TO EXPAND CASE TO BE LARGEST EVER SEX DISCRIMINATION CASE
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification Seeks Trial for More Than 1.5 Million Current and Former Wal-Mart Employees
(April 28, 2003) San Francisco, CA. Today lawyers for women suing Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for sex discrimination filed their motion for class certification in San Francisco’s United States District Court. (Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. No. C-01-2252 MJJ). The motion asks federal Judge Martin Jenkins to rule that the case can go to trial on behalf of all women who worked for Wal-Mart in the United States at any time since December 26, 1998. The proposed class is believed to exceed 1.5 million women. If the Judge grants the request, this case would be the largest employment discrimination case ever brought.
The women charge that Wal-Mart, including its Sam’s Club division, systematically discriminates against its female hourly and salaried employees across the nation by denying them promotions and equal pay. The motion lays out the evidence against Wal-Mart.
The motion is supported by 110 detailed sworn statements from women who worked in 184 different Wal-Mart stores in 30 different states, and includes testimony and exhibits gleaned from more than 100 Wal-Mart managers and executives who were deposed, Wal-Mart’s electronic payroll data and more than 1, 200,000 pages of documents from Wal-Mart’s corporate files.
Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest company, and the world’s largest retailer. It has over 1 million employees working in more than 3400 stores throughout the United States. Although more than two thirds (2/3) of its hourly employees are female, they hold only one third (1/3) of store management jobs, and less that 15% of store manager positions. In addition, as Wal-Mart’s own workforce data reveals, women in every major job category at Wal-Mart have been paid less than men with the same seniority, in every year since 1997 even though the female employees on average have higher performance ratings and less turnover than men. Internal Wal-Mart documents acknowledge that it is “behind the rest of the world” in the promotion of women to management ranks.
“Women are treated as second class employees at Wal-Marts from Florida to Alaska. This is not just an isolated or local problem. Wal-Mart has known about this for years and has refused to act,” says Brad Seligman, executive director of the Berkeley, California nonprofit foundation, The Impact Fund, that is coordinating the lawsuit on behalf of the women.
In charging widespread discrimination, the women cite testimony and documents revealing that senior Wal-Mart managers use and endorse the use of demeaning stereotypes of women in the workplace, such as:
“With demeaning attitudes toward women held by managers at all levels of Wal-Mart, it’s little surprise that we found women were being paid less and had far fewer chances of getting promoted into management than men,” said plaintiffs class action attorney Joseph M. Sellers of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, co-counsel for the women. “Wal-Mart needs to clean up its act. This behavior is more reminiscent of the 1950s than the 21st century.”
More than 100 current and former Wal-Mart female employees, from hourly workers to former district managers, provided sworn declarations in support of the class certification motion. The women, who worked at Wal-Mart Stores in 30 states, detail their personal experiences with Wal-Mart’s discriminatory practices, including:
Materials about the case can be found www.walmartclass.com, including the legal brief filed by the women, the sworn statements from more than 100 women along with a map showing their locations with links to their sworn statements, charts showing the extent of the disparities in promotion and pay at Wal-Mart, FAQs, pleadings, and other documents.
The case was originally filed in June 2001. The complaint, which is available on the website noted above or at www.cmht.com, asks the Court to order Wal-Mart to reform its employment policies and practices and to award to the women lost wages and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial. In earlier rulings, the Court rejected Wal-Mart’s motion to have the case transferred from San Francisco to Arkansas, and granted plaintiff’s motion to add additional plaintiffs. In ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion, the Court held that the case may include women employed at Wal-Mart at any time since December 26, 1998.
The motion for class certification is scheduled to be heard by the Court on July 25, 2003 at which time the Court may issue a ruling.
Lawyers representing the women who brought this case and a number of the women themselves are available for comment.