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Women Win Class-Action Status In Biggest Ever Equal Pay Suit

A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday granted class-action status to a lawsuit against Wal-Mart filed by six current and former Wal-Mart employees who accuse the retail giant of systemic sex discrimination. The lawsuit now potentially covers some 1.6 million current and former female employees, going as far back as late 1998.

“This is the largest civil rights class action ever certified,” Brad Seligman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in this case, told the NY Times. “We hope to fundamentally change Wal-Mart since Wal-Mart is the industry leader. We think changing Wal-Mart for the better is going to help everybody for the better.”

The suit charges that on average, Wal-Mart pays women less than men in the same or similar positions, that women are passed up for promotions in favour of men with less experience., despite the fact that women make up two-thirds of Wal-Mart’s workforce.

Wal-Mart’s lawyers tried to argue against class action status by saying that a class composed of current and former women employees would be too large for one case to handle; the judge disagreed. “Insulating our nation’s largest companies from allegations that they have engaged in a pattern and practice of gender or racial discrimination – simply because they are large – would seriously undermine” civil rights laws, Judge Jenkins wrote in his decision, according to the New York Times.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf

 

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