Discrimination in the workplace has always been a concern and discrimination of women is particularly troubling considering its well-known existence over the years. All companies should make hiring, firing and promotion decisions without regard to age, race, gender, national origin or disability status. However, for some employers, like Wal-Mart, who have grown sufficiently large, policies against discrimination may not be enough. In a case originally filed in 2001, a group of female Wal-Mart employees filed a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination in Wal-Mart’s pay and promotion policies in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit alleged that many women were paid less than men in comparable positions, despite greater seniority and higher performance ratings, and that women received fewer promotions to management positions than men.
In 2004, a federal district court certified a class of women who sought or expressed interest in promotion during their employment. On March 29, 2011, the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in the case. At the time the case was certified as a class action in 2004, there were 1.5 million women estimated to be in the class. However, since that date, many new female employees have joined the company and the size of the class is now estimated at 3 million or more. Regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court, employers should be very cautious with their discrimination polices and consider taking addition steps to ensure that those policies are working in practice to ensure that all employees are treated fairly in the workplace.
If you have questions about discrimination in the workplace, contact an experienced employment law attorney today.