In The Courts

High Court Urged to Give Wal-Mart Women a Hearing

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More than 30 organizations filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday asking it to approve a court hearing for the historically large class action by Wal-Mart employees charging company-wide sex bias.

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Battle Started in 2001

The legal battle began in 2001 with six women claiming Wal-Mart violated federal employment law, with their claims supported by 120 documented incidents from other female employees.

In their suit, the six assert that they were paid less than men in comparable positions, despite higher performance ratings and greater seniority, and that they received fewer--and waited longer for--promotions than men.

Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., denies any systematic discrimination. The company's representatives argue that any claims should be tried individually and not as a class action.

Wal-Mart contends that the range of employees within the class is too diverse. It says that six women who have worked in 10 of the retailer's 3,400 stores nationwide cannot represent every female employee from every store--from part-time entry level hourly workers to salaried managers--over the course of a decade.

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Rita Henley Jensen is founder and editor in chief of Women's eNews.

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