Aug. 3, 2005 – Just weeks after documents emerged revealing Wal-Mart knew it was discriminating against women on its workforce but did nothing to address the problem, the worldâ€™s largest retailer is seeking to end a pending class-action suit over alleged gender discrimination, complaining that the size of the plaintiff pool is too large.
At a hearing scheduled for next week, Wal-Mart intends to argue that allowing six women to represent up to 1.6 million in the suit will create an unwieldy situation that is unfair for the company, the LA Times reported yesterday.
According to company documents to be used against Wal-Mart in the case, a 1998 report from an internal task force demonstrated a clear failure to promote women within the retail giantâ€™s ranks. Rather than act on the task forceâ€™s recommendations, the documents reportedly show Wal-Mart disbanded the "diversity committee" and did nothing.
Initiated in 2001, Susan Dukes v Wal-Mart Stores charges the company with systematically discriminating against women in pay and promotion. A judge at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California certified the class action suit in June 2004, prompting Wal-Mart to file a challenge with the appellate court, which will hear the arguments next Monday.
According to a 2003 study by a California-based consulting company, Drogin, Kakigi & Associates, despite receiving better performance ratings, female Wal-Mart workers have been paid and promoted at rates lower than their male counterparts have.
Wal-Mart claims it has reformed many of those practices and said 38 percent of its managers are now women, the Times reported. According to a statement on a company website, Wal-Mart "does not tolerate discrimination of any kind."