Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Topics: Gender, Discrimination, Sexism Pages: 5 (1610 words) Published: September 20, 2011

Largest Case in US History Revives a Longstanding Debate


Tambra Sullivan

Minot State University

BADM 537

Human Resource Management

August 2011


The sex discrimination case against Wal-Mart, in which the U.S. Supreme Court handed an important victory to the retail chain on June 20, 2011, revives a longstanding debate: are disparities in the workplace due primarily to gender bias or to deep-rooted gender differences? The answer is anything but simple. Women make up nearly two-thirds of hourly workers at Wal-Mart but only one-third of management. The complaint argued that such disparities can be explained only by bias. But can they? This paper attempts to explore this complex issue and the lawsuit outcome.

Wal-mart Sex Discrimination Lawsuit
Largest Case in US History Revives a Longstanding Debate

The Wal-mart sexual discrimination lawsuit was filed ten years ago by three female employees. However, the plaintiffs and their lawyers have sought to expand it into a class-action suit on behalf of every woman who has worked for Wal-Mart at any time since December 1998 -- as many as 1.5 million. While they collected statements from 120 women alleging discrimination, the main argument for the class-action suit relied on sociological and statistical analysis. Women make up nearly two-thirds of hourly workers at Wal-Mart but only one-third of management. Such disparities, the complaint argued, can be explained only by bias.

What is sex discrimination?
When you are treated differently because of your sex and when the different treatment negatively affects the “terms or conditions of employment,” it is illegal. “Terms or conditions of employment” include position, pay, title, being hired or fired from a job, and advancement and training opportunities. (ERA, 2011). Sex Discrimination is against the Law

The federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in the workplace is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII applies to private employers, state and local government employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and joint employer-union apprenticeship programs with 15 or more employees. (ERA, 2011). Past Lawsuits against Wal-mart

This is not the first time that Wal-mart has had a run in with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and it will most likely not be the last. According to a recent EEOC’s lawsuit, Wal-mart’s London, Ky., Distribution Center denied jobs to female applicants from 1998 through February 2005. During that time period, the EEOC contends, 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 Wal-mart regularly used gender stereotypes in filling entry-level order filler positions. 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 EEOC said. Excluding women from employment or excluding them from certain positions because of gender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 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. 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.  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...

References: Biskupic, Joan (2011) Supreme Court Limits Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Case, USA Today, June 21, 2011.
Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) (2011) – Know Your Rights: Sex Discrimination.
Ibarra, H. (1993) Personal Networks of Women and Minorities in Management: A Conceptual
Joshi, Aparna & Liao, Hui, & Roh, Hyuntak (2011) Bridging Domains in Workplace
Demography Research: A Review and Reconceptualization, Journal of Management,
March 2011; vol. 37, 2: pp. 521-552, first published on June 15, 2010
Murray A
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2010); “Wal-mart to Pay More than $11.7
Million to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit”, Press Release 3/1/2010.
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