Wal-Mart Sued Again by Women (in FL) Claiming Discrimination

A class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. Federal Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday by 11 Florida women. The complaint states that Wal-Mart stores pay women less than men for the same work and that Wal-Mart does not give women equal chance for promotion.

Two of the women, one from Palm Beach County, and one from Broward County, want cash compensation and a court order telling Wal-Mart to end its gender discrimination.

This case is similar to cases filed in California, Texas, and Tennessee in the past year. This suit comes just two days after a similar suit was brought in Nashville, Tennessee.

The complaint filed alleges that Wal-Mart denied women equal pay and advancement opportunities. The case bases its claims on interviews with women who worked for Wal-Mart. It claims the company has shown a “pattern and practice of making pay and promotion decision on the basis of gender.”

The case cites research that found about 90 percent of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Stores in Florida and other parts of the Southeast have fewer female managers than male managers and pay women less than men in the same jobs.  As noted in the South Florida SunSentinel, some examples of the discrimination Florida women have experienced, according to the lawsuit are:

  •  A Palm Beach County woman quit her job at Wal-Mart after four years because she was passed over for promotion many times in favor of less experienced male applicants. She also noticed she was making less money than a man with less experience and her manager told her it was because, “Single mothers like you don’t deserve to make as much, you should be in a two income household.”
  •  A Broward County woman still works at Wal-Mart and has since May 2007. She has been paid less than her male coworkers with equal or less experience the whole time, the case says.
  • Another female employee was told by her (male) manager that men should make more than women because “they have family to support.” In this woman’s case, she had a family and her male coworkers making more, did not.
  • Some women have been told that the automotive, electronics and sporting goods departments, which pay higher, are “not for women” or that each of those departments “is a man thing.” One woman was told cosmetics would be more “appropriate” and another that the jewelry department would be more fitting.
  • A woman applying as manager of the pet department was told, “a woman is not suited for this job.”
  • One woman heard from a male manager that women could not be supervisors because they “were married…and had children” and “their responsibilities were to their home life, not being promoted at Wal-Mart.” Another was told she “was not cut out for Assistant Manager because she had children.”
  • One of the women routinely heard her managers comment for example, that it’s best to “keep women barefoot and pregnant, that is where they belong.”
  • Another woman applying for overnight work was told by her manager that she was rejected for the job because “she couldn’t do any overnight work because she was too busy being too pretty.”

The case also describes a meeting of district managers in 2004 presided over by CEO Thomas Coughlin, where the managers were told to hire managers with “single focus.” They were also told to keep in mind that men are better at single focus to get the job done “while women are better at “information processing.”

All of the four cases are similar versions of a national class action lawsuit, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. The case was struck down due to the class of female Wal-Mart employees being too large and diverse, not based on its merits.

Perhaps, the smaller class sizes might get the case upheld at the Supreme Court level.

“The new case is a “recycling of the old case struck down by the Supreme Court,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove. Wal-Mart has antidiscrimination policies, he stated.

This Florida case comes just two days after a suit was filed in Nashville, Tennessee by three women seeking to proceed on behalf of Wal-Mart’s female employees in the company’s Region 43, which comprises Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. They also allege that Wal-Mart pays women less than men in comparable jobs and blocked promotions for female workers.

That suit is the third regional gender discrimination claim filed against Wal-Mart following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year rejecting a nationwide class action. Women in California and Texas filed lawsuits last year.

How many lawsuits will it take until this giant company treats women and men equally? There is research that shows about 90 percent of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in South Florida and others part of the southeast have fewer female managers than male managers and pay women less than men in the same jobs.  What will it take for them to see that this is discrimination and these women are not going away?

Contact one of our attorneys at Gacovino Lake at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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