RETAIL Lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of sexism in the workplace
The class action suit would represent 1.6 million women.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. expects a federal court judge will grant class-action status in a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the world's largest retailer and said it intends to appeal.
U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins in San Francisco was expected to release the decision today in a case that could involve 1.6 million women who have worked or still work for Wal-Mart.
In anticipation of the ruling, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told The Associated Press today that the Bentonville-based company is still confident in its contention that it does not discriminate against women employees.
"Let's keep in mind that today's ruling has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the case," Williams said. "Judge Jenkins is simply saying he thinks it meets the legal requirements necessary to move forward as a class action. We strongly disagree with his decision and will appeal."
The ruling would follow months of hearings over whether a complaint brought by six women working in Wal-Mart's California stores should represent 1.6 million current and former women workers against the retailing giant.
Lawyers for the original plaintiffs have argued the case should be broadened to cover virtually all of the company's female employees dating to 1998.
The suit alleges that Wal-Mart set up a system that frequently pays its female workers less than their male counterparts for comparable jobs and bypasses women for key promotions.
In hearings last fall, Wal-Mart contended that the suit ignores the thousands of women who earn more than their male counterparts. The company also says the lawsuit's allegations are flawed because they don't consider the factors that cause one job to pay more than another.