The beginning of the 21st century brought with it a spate of problems for the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart. The company found itself facing one of the biggest lawsuits ever in the history of the US. Wal-Mart was charged with discrimination against its female employees in compensation, promotions and job assignments in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiffs alleged that Wal-Mart mistreated women in various ways: they earned much less than their male counterparts even when they had more experience than men or performed better than them (Goldberg, 2007). In June 2001, a former Wal-Mart employee, Betty Dukes (Dukes), had filed a case accusing the company of 'sex discrimination in promotions, training and pay. Many more employees joined Dukes, and by May 2003, the case had taken the shape of a class action suit after the plaintiffs asked a Federal Judge to allow the case to proceed on behalf of more than 1.5 million women. Wal-Mart had for long been accused of not treating its female employees in a socially responsible manner. A study of Wal-Mart's own employee data (conducted by some experts hired by the plaintiffs) revealed that women had been discriminated against in many instances. Even the company's internal memos revealed that Wal-Mart was far behind its competitors in promoting women at the workplace.
Discrimination is a sociological term referring to treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group that is taken in consideration based on class or category. Gender discrimination refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person. It is defined as adverse action against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex (Kabel, 2006). It is the practice of letting a person's sex unfairly become a factor when deciding who receives a job, promotion, or other employment benefit. It most often affects women who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against in favor of a man. Types of Gender Discrimination There are two main categories of gender discrimination:
Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint
Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint, brought on behalf of certain named plaintiffs and those similarly situated, asserts claims against Wal-Mart for sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Plaintiffs allege that women employed in Wal-Mart stores: (1) are paid less than men in comparable positions, despite having higher performance ratings and greater seniority; and (2) receive fewer—and wait longer for—promotions to in-store management positions than men. Plaintiffs contend that Wal-Mart's strong, centralized structure fosters or facilitates gender stereotyping and discrimination, that the policies and practices underlying this discriminatory treatment are consistent throughout Wal-Mart stores, and that this discrimination is common to all women who work or have worked in Wal-Mart stores (Fisk & Gullo, 2005).
Plaintiffs sought to certify a nationwide class of women who have been subjected to these allegedly discriminatory pay and promotion policies. The proposed class consists of women employed in ...