Magazine article Workforce Management

Wal-Mart Women Win a Round

Magazine article Workforce Management

Wal-Mart Women Win a Round

Article excerpt

Judge certifies their class

Nation's largest employer vows to fight on

FEMALE EMPLOYEES at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won a big victory when U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins granted class-action status to a gender-discrimination suit that may include 1.6 million current and former women female employees, virtually all the women who have worked at the massive retailer since 1998.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest employer, with a workforce of 1.3 million, has vowed to fight what is now the largest civil rights case ever filed against a private employer.

In addition to having its reputation tarnished as the case drags on, Wal-Mart faces the possibility of huge financial damages as a result of the ruling. The Voice of America settled a class-action sexual-discrimination suit for just over $500 million in 2000. "If we prevail in this case, we expect to substantially exceed that," says attorney Brad Seligman, executive director of the Impact Fund, one of the public-interest law groups representing the plaintiffs.

"It's a tremendously important step forward," Seligman says of the judge's decision. …

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