Supreme Court Hears Arguments To Determine If Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Sex Discrimination At Wal-Mart Should Go Forward

March 29, 2011 9:53 am

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ACLU And Other Groups Had Filed Brief In Support Of Lawsuit

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WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments today to determine if a class action lawsuit challenging discriminatory practices at Wal-Mart should go forward. The American Civil Liberties Union, along with 33 other civil rights and women’s rights organizations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

“It is an affront to our basic values of fairness and equality to deny women equal opportunities in the workplace,” said Lenora M. Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Employees who have been discriminated against must be able to seek justice. A class action lawsuit is the best way for the women of Wal-Mart to be heard.”

A group of female employees initially sued Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, 10 years ago, claiming the company paid them lower wages and gave them fewer promotions than men – even when they had higher performance ratings and more seniority than their male counterparts. The women claimed the treatment violated their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which ensures protection against sex discrimination in the workplace.

“Inequality in the workplace is still a persistent and shameful reality,” said Ariela Migdal, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Outdated stereotypes of women’s roles not only limit opportunities for employees, but also hurt the families those employees are trying to support. A class action lawsuit is the best way for Wal-Mart’s employees to challenge unlawful discrimination.”

The evidence presented by the plaintiffs includes reports that Wal-Mart managers across the country relied on archaic sex stereotypes in denying promotions and equal pay for women. In court declarations, women described how they were told that men deserve the promotions and higher pay because they have families to support, while women are just working to make “extra money.” They also described how they were confined to departments such as cosmetics and women’s clothing, and denied jobs in hardware, meat-cutting and firearms. Other women reported that they were told they could never advance because they were not part of a “boys’ club” or were told they “should be home barefoot and pregnant” instead of advancing their careers.

More information on this case can be found at:

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