Wal-Mart Settles EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit

March 2, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Wal-Mart Stores has struck a deal regarding a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to an EEOC press release, Wal-Mart will pay $11.7 million in back wages and compensatory damages, its share of  employer taxes, and up to $250,000 in administration fees – and will furnish  other relief, including jobs, to settle the sex discrimination lawsuit. 

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Wal-Mart’s London, Kentucky Distribution Center denied jobs to female applicants  from 1998 through February 2005, during which time the EEOC contends, that Wal-Mart regularly hired male entry-level  applicants for warehouse positions, but excluded female applicants who were  equally or better qualified. The EEOC alleged that the retailer regularly used gender stereotypes in filling entry-level order filler  positions, and that hiring officials told applicants that order filling positions were not suitable for women, and that  they hired mainly 18- to 25-year-old males for order filling positions.

The consent decree settling the  suit, entered by the court on March 1, 2010, requires Wal-Mart to provide order  filler jobs, as they become available, to eligible and interested female class  members, as determined by a claims administrator, and Wal-Mart will fill the first 50 available order filler positions with female class members. For the next 50 positions, female class  members will be offered every other job, and thereafter every third position will be offered to female class  members.

“Forty-plus years after the passage  of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, far too many  employers are still blatantly excluding women from particular jobs, segregating  their workforces on the basis of sex, and denying women equal pay for equal  work,” said Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Let this major settlement serve as a warning: Employers must stop engaging in these outdated and sexist practices, or they will face severe legal consequences.”

The EEOC notes that, pursuant to the consent decree, Wal-Mart  has agreed not to discriminate against females in hiring for order filler positions  and not to retaliate against applicants or employees who “exercise their rights, complain about discrimination or assist in an investigation or discrimination-related  proceeding”. Wal-Mart will post a notice  of non-discrimination at its warehouse facilities in Kentucky,  train its managers and employees involved in the hiring process at the London Distribution  Center, and use validated  interview questions for the order filler position. Wal-Mart has also agreed to submit reports to EEOC  detailing its compliance with the decree.

A settlement administrator will  distribute the proceeds to eligible class members. Walmart has agreed to pay the first $250,000 of the administration costs.  Class members will be contacted by  the Settlement Administrator. Updated  information on the settlement will be available on the EEOC v. Wal-Mart information line (317) 226-5485.