Wal-Mart Says Case Is Too Big To Defend

August 8, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In its appeal of a ruling certifying a sexual discrimination case as a class-action, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says the complaints of six workers who filed the suit aren't representative of the entire class of 1.6 million women.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company wants to defend itself on a case by case basis and says the class includes thousands of women who were not victims of discrimination.

Recent court documents cause some to speculate that Wal-Mart would seek to settle the suit (See Court Documents Say Wal-Mart Ignored Sex Discrimination Warnings ). If the class certification is upheld, a settlement could cost Wal-Mart billions of dollars. If the class certification is overturned, it may be too costly for plaintiffs to pursue their cases individually.

The suit was filed in 2001 by six female workers and claims that Wal-Mart paid women less than men with similar qualifications and often overlooked women for promotions. Company-wide statistics prompted a federal judge to certify the case as a class-action suit last year saying the complaints could apply to all female employees since 1998 (See Court Approves Wal-Mart Discrimination Suit Class ).

Wal-Mart contends that pay and promotion decisions are made by local store managers and individual store statistics show women are not discriminated against, reports the WSJ.

It is expected that the court will take months to rule on the appeal.