According to a CNN article published yesterday:
A federal appeals court has certified the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. history, in a long-standing dispute against retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over alleged gender bias in pay and promotions.
The ruling on the case — Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — was divided 6-5 in the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals. The ruling will allow a class-action track for the suit, which could potentially cost the company “billions in damages,” as the number of past and present female Wal-Mart employees adds up to more than one million people.
You may be wondering what, exactly, are the charges in this case?
The plaintiffs allege that women were paid less than, and were given fewer opportunities for promotion than, their male counterparts…
The lawsuit alleges that the company’s “strong, centralized structure fosters or facilitates gender stereotyping and discrimination.”
The plaintiffs also note that while women comprise 70 percent of Wal-Mart’s hourly employees, only one-third of the company’s store management is made up of women.
Betty Dukes, who was a Wal-Mart store greeter in California, brought the suit with five others in 2001. Yeah, nine years ago.
“It has taken a very long time, and a tremendous amount of work, but it looks like we’re finally going to get our day in court,” Dukes said after the ruling was announced. “That’s all we’ve ever asked for.”
Of course, Wal-Mart is still fighting the claims made by the plaintiffs and the ruling to allow a class-action track, “saying it would be too onerous to litigate.” The company is looking into “seeking review from the Supreme Court.”