Suit Alleges Wal-Mart Discriminates Against Black Truck Drivers

September 23, 2004 ( - A federal lawsuit has been brought against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging that the retail giant discriminates against blacks seeking truck-driving positions.

Daryal Nelson filed the suit in the US District Court in Little Rock, stating that Wal-Mart rejects and discourages black applicants for truck-driving jobs at the chain’s distribution centers in twelve states, all of them in the South, the Associated Press reports.

The states Nelson names in his suit are Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Nelson alleges that in May 2002, after repeatedly applying to Wal-Mart, he was promised a job at a company distribution center. When he reported to the area director, however, Nelson claims that he was told he could only work as a laborer. Nelson asserts that the area director used “racial stereotyping” in expressing a “gut feeling” that Nelson has lied regarding his driving record and credit rating, according to the AP.

Nelson filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found “reasonable cause” to believe the truck driver. The EEOC claims that Nelson had a better driving record than many of the 20 truck drivers at the area distribution center, which, out of all the drivers, only had one black employee.

Nelson is seeking to garner class-action status for his lawsuit, and is asking the court to order Wal-Mart to stop discriminating, as well as award damages to those who have been discriminated against and those who were discouraged from applying because of the alleged discrimination practices.

Wal-Mart spokesman Gus Whitcomb, although admitting that he had not seen the lawsuit, stated that “we do not discriminate in our hiring practices.” He would not comment on the actual lawsuit, the AP reports.

This would not be Wal-Mart’s only trouble with class-action lawsuits as of late. In June, a San Francisco federal judge gave the green light to a gender discrimination lawsuit against the giant retailer proceeding as a class action ( See Court Approves Wal-Mart Discrimination Suit Class ).

HR officials closely watch legal developments against Wal-Mart because, with 1.3 million workers, it is the largest private US employer.