The Florida based Publix Super Markets Inc. has agreed to pay $81.5 million to settle a class-action sex discrimination suit. Female employees brought the suit claiming that the chain, which operates 534 stores in the Southeast, placed them in dead-end jobs and denied them promotions. The women also claimed that they were given poor reviews because of their gender, were treated harshly when pregnant and were given more severe treatment when punished than men. Twelve plaintiffs, who originally brought the suit, settled with the chain; the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission joined the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs. Approximately 150,000 female employees are eligible to seek a share of the settlement.
In the past few years, other supermarket chains have also settled large sex-bias suits. In 1994 Lucky Stores Inc., based in California, paid $107 million to approximately 12,000 female employees. Also in 1994, Safeway Stores Inc. paid $7.5 million to approximately 4,000 female employees. Albertson’s Inc. settled a sex-bias suit for $32.5 million to settle a sex-bias suit involving 3,500 women. The Oakland based law firm, Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baler initiated all of the lawsuits.