Only women staffed the 11 open checkout stations at The Home
Depot in Orange Park one day this week.
But on the aisles filled with lumber, bathroom and kitchen
cabinets, hardware and plumbing supplies, most of the sales
staff -- clad in the company's bright orange aprons -- were men.
At the Regency store, the situation was similar.
Just which kind of positions are open to men and women at Home
Depot is at the heart of a sex-bias lawsuit that was joined by
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday.
But while the staffing of men and women in the two stores
visited locally appeared to match the pattern claimed in the
class-action suit, Home Depot says the situation is not the
product of sex bias.
"The company certainly does not have any preconceived ideas
about who does this or who would work in this job or that job,"
said spokesman Jerry Shields.
Many cash register positions are filled by entry-level
employees, he said, while sales floor positions mostly are
filled by workers with trade experience or related experience in
the home improvement industry.
Employees are paid a salary based on their experience, company
Home Depot officials declined to disclose the ratio of men to
women in cashier positions, citing the need to keep the
information secret from competitors. There are four Home Depot
stores in the Jacksonville area.
But one of the lawyers suing Home Depot rejects the notion that
staffing patterns just reflect experience.
The company's training and promotion pattern nurtures those men
in the sales position, said M. Christine Carty, an attorney
based at the New York office of Schnader, Harrison, Segal &
Those few women given sales positions do not receive the same
training, she said.
Carty's firm also represents three Tampa women seeking to have
their case joined with the lawsuit filed in 1995 in New Orleans
by four ex-employees of Home Depot.
Orange Park store manager Tim Sparks declined to comment on how
the positions men and women worked in were affected by company
"We have a diverse work force," he said.
Added spokesman Shields: "The Home Depot has been improving the
numbers of women in management in the home improvement