BRAD SELIGMAN (SBN 083838)

JOCELYN D. LARKIN (SBN 110817)

THE IMPACT FUND

125 University Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94710

Telephone:        (510) 845-3473

Facsimile:         (510) 845-3654

 

JOSEPH SELLERS

CHRISTINE WEBBER

CHARLES TOMPKINS

JULIE GOLDSMITH

COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFELD & TOLL

West Tower – Suite 500

1100 New York Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20005-3964

Telephone:        (202) 408-4600

Facsimile:         (202) 408-4699

 

IRMA D. HERRERA (SBN 98658)

DEBRA A. SMITH (SBN 147863)

EQUAL RIGHTS ADVOCATES

1663 Mission Street, Suite 250

San Francisco, CA 94103

Telephone:        (415) 621-0672

Facsimile:         (415) 621-6744

STEPHEN TINKLER

MERIT BENNETT

TINKLER & BENNETT

309 Johnson Street

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Telephone:        (505) 986-0269

Facsimile:         (505) 982-6698

 

SHEILA Y. THOMAS (SBN 161403)

EQUAL RIGHTS ADVOCATES

5260 Proctor Avenue

Oakland, CA 94618

Telephone:        (510) 339-3739

Facsimile:         (510) 339-3723

 

DEBRA GARDNER

PUBLIC JUSTICE CENTER

500 East Lexington Street

Baltimore, MD 21202

Telephone:        (410) 625-9409

Facsimile:         (410) 625-9423

 

STEVE STEMERMAN (SBN 067690)

ELIZABETH LAWRENCE (SBN 111781)

DAVIS, COWELL & BOWE

100 Van Ness Avenue, 20th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94102

Telephone:        (415) 626-1880

Facsimile:         (415) 626-2860

 

Attorneys for Plaintiffs

SHAUNA MARSHALL (SBN 90641)

HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW

200 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Telephone:        (415) 565-4685

Facsimile:         (415) 565-4854

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

 

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

 

BETTY DUKES, PATRICIA SURGESON, CLEO PAGE, CHRISTINE KWAPNOSKI, DEBORAH GUNTER, KAREN WILLIAMSON AND EDITH ARANA, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated,

 

                        Plaintiff,

            vs.

WAL-MART STORES, INC.,

                        Defendant

Case No. C-01-2252 MJJ

 

 

 

 

DECLARATION OF VICKI THORNTON IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

I, VICKI THORNTON, declare:

1.                        I worked for Wal-Mart at the Racine, Wisconsin Supercenter from 1998 to 2001.  I am female. 

2.                        I obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Parkside University in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1982.  Prior to applying for work with Wal-Mart in 1998, I worked for three years as the Store Manager at a Family Dollar Store.  I earned $27,000/year and had seven employees reporting to me. 

3.                        In August, 1998, when a new Wal-Mart store was opening in my community, I decided to look into whether there might be a career opportunity for me there.  I interviewed with Bill Baumann, the Store Manager, and Matt McKee, an Assistant Manager.  I told them of my background in retail, my college degree, and that I was looking for an opportunity to advance my career.  I also told them that I preferred to be hired for a management position because I felt I had the background and experience to succeed, and that I wanted to move up in the company.

4.                        Store Manager Baumann offered me a position as Department Manager in Chemicals.  Baumann promised me that I could enter the manager training program within six months of starting to work at Wal-Mart, but that I needed to start out as a Department Manager.  Assistant Manager McKee also agreed that I should be able to enter the manager training program promptly.  With the understanding that I would be moved into management within six months, I accepted the Department Manager job at a starting wage of $9.00/hour.  I worked 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

5.                        Despite their promises, and despite the fact that my annual evaluations during my three years at Wal-Mart always recognized me for exceeding expectations, I did not advance at Wal-Mart.  I was never allowed to join Wal-Mart’s management training program. 

6.                        I was successful as the Department Manager of the Chemicals Department. I was rated “above standard” on my 90-day evaluation and was given a 5% pay increase.  After about five months on the job, Store Manager Baumann asked me move to the Produce Department.  He said he thought it would be more of a challenge for me because I had never worked in food or grocery before.   As Lead in the Produce Department, I learned my job quickly and performed well.  However, after I had been on the job for a few weeks, I started experiencing sexual harassment from Produce Manager Donnie Gateley.  He was constantly saying things to me like, “Can’t you wear lower cut shirts?” “You have a nice ass.”  “Women are put on this earth for one thing.  My wife isn’t any good at it.  Are you?”  Or he would hold up a head of lettuce and say, “I’ve got a head for you.”  This was any every day thing.  The very first day Gateley said these things to me I complained to Store Manager Baumann, but he did not do anything about it.  The harassment continued over the next couple of months.  I complained to Baumann nine or ten times.  I also complained about it to Assistant Manager in Grocery Jeff [Last Name Unknown].  Jeff told me to “grin and bear it.”  I then complained again to Baumann, and told him what Jeff had said to me, and Baumann just repeated that I should “grin and bear it.”  To my knowledge, there was no investigation of my allegations of sexual harassment.  It was only after I threatened to get a lawyer and sue Wal-Mart that they agreed to move me to another department.  In about April, 1999, Store Manager Baumann moved me to Support Manager on the 3rd shift, which was the night shift.  Donnie was allowed to keep his job.   To my knowledge, he was never disciplined or coached for his conduct. Indeed, I am not aware that anyone in management ever even discussed it with him.   

7.                        I was only Support Manager for a few weeks in 1999.  I could not stay in that position either because I was subjected to sexual harassment again, this time by Ron West, the Manager of the Meat Department.  He would ask me to come into the cooler with him because he “needed to be satisfied.”  This time, when I complained to Store Manager Baumann and District Manager Don  Breuss, they moved me to a different department right away.  However, again, I observed that West was allowed to keep his job.  I became Department Manager in Dairy.  Despite all these problems, I continued to perform well.  On my first annual evaluation, I was rated as “exceeds expectations” and given another 5% raise.   I never complained about the harassment to anyone higher up at Wal-Mart because Baumann and the District Manager said they would take care of it. 

8.                         With each department move, I kept asking Store Manager Baumann, Co-Manager Dean DeBona, and Assistant Managers McKee, Ed Covey and Stewart Coffee to be admitted to the manager training program.  Baumann and DeBona always told me that there were no openings in the program.  However, I observed that new management trainees were always being assigned to our store and that male employees at the store were admitted to the program.  For example, Zeke Radovanovic, a male Department Manager, was admitted to the program in January 2000.  

9.                        I ran the Dairy Department for about a year.  In the summer of 2000, I received another “exceeds expectations” performance evaluation and another 5% raise.  Nonetheless, at about the same time, Store Manager Baumann moved me from Dairy and made me a stocker in Lawn and Garden.  He left my pay alone, but he changed my title from Department Manager to Sales Associate.  I objected to him that this was a demotion and definitely a move in the wrong direction.  Baumann told me not to look it at that way, and that he “had other plans for me.”  Store Manager Baumann then gave the Dairy Department Manager position to Brian Frederickson.  Brian had been running the Dairy Department for the year before I took over, but stepped down because he said it s too much pressure.  Store Manager Baumann told me that Brian had asked for the position back and that is why he had to move me.

10.                    After about two months in Lawn and Garden, Store Manager Baumann moved me to Seasonal.  There, I had Department Manager responsibilities, but my title was still Sales Associate.  Baumann told me he would change my title back to Department Manager, but before he had a chance to do this, he was transferred to a Wal-Mart store in Arkansas.  Store Manager Heather Nutini succeeded him.  I told her that Baumann had been planning to restore my Department Manager title.  She told me she was not going to do it.  She refused to give me a reason.  For the next nine months, Nutini moved me back and forth between Seasonal and cashier.  For the next year, I applied for every Department Manager position that was posted, but I was only interviewed once.

11.                    In the summer of 2001, I again received a performance evaluation rating me as “exceeds expectations” along with another 5% raise.  When I asked Store Manager Nutini in about June or July of 2001 whether there were any openings in the management training program and whether I could apply, she told me there were no openings.  Just weeks later, I was told by a male employee in our store, Brian Yust, who was Department Manager in Frozen Foods, that he had been admitted to the program.  He had been at Wal-Mart less time than I had.  He told me that he had no prior grocery experience before coming to Wal-Mart, but wanted to get into a new profession.   He had gotten all of his training from me and the other department managers.

12.                    I never saw any postings for openings in the management training program and I knew of no way to get admitted to the program other than through the Store Manager.  I believe I was not admitted to the program because I am female.  In all the time I was at the Racine Supercenter, I only saw one woman admitted to the training program – Beverly Graves.  All the other trainees that I observed were male.   

13.                    In June 2001, I became aware of this lawsuit and contacted the plaintiffs’ lawyers because I believed that I had been excluded from the management training program based upon my gender.  Less than two months later, on September 11, 2001 and with no prior warning whatsoever, I was paged to the office in the middle of my shift and terminated for “gross misconduct.”  Store Manager Nutini said I had “stolen time.”   She said that I had punched in about a half hour before the start of my shift several days earlier.  I was terminated on the spot.  The story was completely fabricated.  This was two months to the day after I had contacted the lawyers for the sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart.   I am very suspicious about the timing of my termination.  I had, until then, had an excellent performance record.  There was no factual basis for the allegation against me. 

14.                    I have personal knowledge of each and every fact set forth in the Declaration, and if called to testify as a witness in this matter, I could and would competently testify to each of these facts.

  

            I declare under penalty of perjury of the laws of the United States and State of Wisconsin that the foregoing is true and correct.

            This Declaration was signed by me on ______________________, 2003, at _______________________.

 

                                                                                    ______________________________

                                                                                    Vicki L. Thornton