Wal-Mart: 'God made Adam first so women would always be second to men.'
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. female employees said in a lawsuit seeking lost pay and damages on behalf of as many as 1.6 million female workers that they had to visit strip clubs while on business and were called "little Janie Qs" by male managers.
And there is this attributed to a male Wal-Mart manager in South Carolina. "God made Adam first so women would always be second to men."
Monday, April 28, 2003
Female workers file bias suit against Wal-Mart
By Karen Gullo / Bloomberg News
link to www.detnews.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. female employees said in a lawsuit seeking lost pay and damages on behalf of as many as 1.6 million female workers that they had to visit strip clubs while on business and were called "little Janie Qs" by male managers.
Statements from 110 female workers claiming they were denied promotions and paid less than men were filed in a motion requesting class-action status. Wal-Mart denies it discriminates and says the suit is based on isolated events.
If approved by a judge, the class action would be the largest employment discrimination suit against a U.S. company. Damages could be in the billions, said San Francisco employment lawyer Cliff Palefsky.
"It could have a potentially dramatic impact on the company's bottom line," said Palefsky, who is not involved in the suit.
Mona Williams, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, denied the allegations. "There's no basis for a finding of system-wide discrimination," Williams said. "Wal-Mart is committed to making sure that all of our associates are treated fairly when it comes to advancement and pay."
The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by six female employees in June 2001. An expert hired by the plaintiffs estimated that women store managers earned $89,280 in 2001, $16,402 less than male store managers, court records show. Female cashiers made $13,831, or $694 less than men.
"Senior management often referred to the female associates in the stores as 'little Janie Qs' and 'girls'," the filing said. "Female managers have been required to go to Hooter's restaurants and strip clubs in the course of business events."
Williams denied that there were system-wide pay discrepancies at the company, saying "nine out of 10 times, women and men are paid equally." she said. About 40 percent of managers at Wal-Mart are women.
She said she was not aware of any incidents involving Hooters or strip clubs and that there could be "a few knuckleheads who make the wrong decisions." The women who brought the suit "comprise a very small percentage and are not representative" of the female workforce, she said.
A hearing on the request for class action status is scheduled for July.
Wal-Mart suit could be largest ever against private employer
by Jack Kuenzie
Updated 6:53pm by BrettWitt
link to www.wistv.com
(Columbia) April 28, 2003 - The suit brought by current and former Wal-Mart employees against the nation's largest retailer claims women are systematically prevented from climbing the corporate ladder at the company and claims they earn less than male employees.
The lawsuit has been in the making almost a year and half. Attorneys for a group of women Wal-Mart workers went to court to take action that could make this suit one of the biggest ever against a corporation and the case involves South Carolinians.
It's the world's largest retailer. The stores are popular with women with four out of ten in America shopping at Wal-Mart weekly. Even South Carolina's First Lady has been known to drop in.
Women make up more than half of the company's 1.3 employees, but only 14% of the company's store managers are women, and only seven percent of regional managers are women. Women like Stephanie Idle, "After I exercised my right to the open door and went up as high as I could and talked for probably about five or six weeks to people they just let it stand. It was very obvious that they were discriminating against me."
More than a hundred of those women, current and former Wal-Mart workers, have signed on to a major lawsuit against the company. The legal action began last year in California with a group of seven women charging systematic sex discrimination, including extensive claims of sexual harrassment. The plaintiffs come from 30 states with about a half dozen from South Carolina.
In a statement, one woman who worked at a York store says she was told by a male manager that a co-worker was promoted because he was "head of his household."
A Sumter woman, an assistant manager, says after she accused a male co-manager of groping her and pulling her shirt up, she was denied a promotion. She says the man was later allowed to evaluate her job performance.
And there is this attributed to a male manager in South Carolina. "God made Adam first so women would always be second to men."
On the "Today" show Monday morning, Mona Williams issued denials from the company, "In nine out of ten of our stores, there's absolutely no difference between what men make and what women make. In some, men make a little more, women a little more. And we promote women at the rate that they apply for these jobs."
Columbia lawyer Malissa Burnette specializes in sexual harrassment and discrimination cases, "With this large a lawsuit, it could send a real message to large companies that they have to treat males and females equitably."
Among the more outrageous allegations, that women managers had to go to strip clubs and Hooters restaurants during business-related activities.
Burnette says a key to the plaintiffs' case will be for each of them to show that she was treated differently than men in similar positions.
Wal-Mart has been repeatedly targeted in smaller-scale lawsuits, which also included sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination issues dating back to at least 1981.
address: Bloomberg News + WIS_TV Columbia, South Carolina
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