Wal-Mart Slapped With Record Sexual Discrimination Suit

June 19, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nation's largest employer of women has been charged with discriminating against its female employees in what is potentially the largest class action of its kind ever.

The suit, brought by six former and current workers, charges that Wal-Mart discriminates against its female employees in promotions, compensation and job assignments in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The suit alleges that women are largely relegated to lower paying jobs and systematically denied advancement opportunities, as evidenced by:

  • while nearly three-fourths (72%) of Wal-Mart workers are women, men hold 90% of Wal-Mart store manager positions
  • less than a third of store management positions at Wal-Mart are held by women, compared with more than half (56%) of comparable positions at competitive firms
  • there is only one woman in the ranks of the top twenty officers at the company.

The class in this case may include more than an estimated 500,000 current and former female employees of Wal-Mart retail stores in the US.

For its part, Wal-Mart issued a statement that women hold 37% of the 55,000 management positions at Wal-Mart, and that the company is working to bring more qualified women into higher-level positions. The retailing giant also cautioned that “comparisons of Wal-Mart with other companies need to be made carefully because there are significant differences in how companies classify ‘management’ positions.”

– Camilla Klein              editors@plansponsor.com