16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
25 November - 10 December 2007
|Wal-Mart retail workers file historic sex discrimination law suit
Wal-Mart's slogan of "Always Low Prices" has tremendous
implications for employees around the world. Wal-Mart is world's largest retail
company and frequent #1 rank on the Fortune 500 list, grossing USD $351.1 billion in 2006. However, employees in their supply chain - primarily women - often work in dangerous working conditions, without compensation for overtime or increased quotas, and receive wages as low as USD $0.20 per hour. And women working at Wal-Mart retail stores are continuously facing discrimination
in promotions, training, and pay.
Wal-Mart ranks second behind the U.S. government as the
most-sued organization in the world. Many of those lawsuits come from their
female employees, both in its supply chain in developing countries and in their
retail stores, mainly based in the United States.
The largest of these lawsuits was upheld on 06 February 2007, when the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals certified Dukes v Wal-Mart Stores Inc., ruling that six plaintiffs - Betty Dukes, Patricia Surgeson, Cleo
Page, Debra Gunter, Edith Arana and Christine Kwapnoski - may represent
all female employees who worked at Wal-Mart any time since 26 December 1998 in
a nationwide sex discrimination lawsuit.Dukes v Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the largest class action lawsuit in US history, which now includes more than 1.6 million current and
former female employees of Wal-Mart retail stores in the US, including Wal-Mart
discount stores, super centers, neighborhood stores, and Sam's Clubs, and
charges that the company discriminates against its female retail employees in
pay and promotions, for which they seek injunctive relief,
back pay, and punitive damages.
to the Wal-Mart Class website, women comprise 92% of Wal-Mart's cashiers, but only
14% of Wal-Mart's store managers. Female hourly workers earned up to 37
cents less per hour than their male counterparts. They further state: "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."
Wal-Mart Watch predicts that the judgment in this lawsuit could "fundamentally alter the way in which
Wal-Mart treats women at every level in its workplace, thereby
impacting how companies treat their women employees everywhere."
The case will likely take several years before going to trial.
Information from Gender Discrimination at Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart Watch), Wal-Mart Class website and MisFortune 500.