In what could be the largest sex discrimination case ever filed against a private U.S. employer, six women filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Inc., asserting that the nation’s largest employer of women systematically discriminated against women in pay, promotion and training, and of retaliating against women who complained about the alleged inequality throughout their Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs stores nationwide. As many as 700,000 current and former employees of Wal-Mart are eligible to become plaintiffs in the case if it is given class action status.
The suit highlights the fact that although women comprise more than 72 percent of U.S. Wal-Mart employees, men comprise 90 percent of Wal-Mart store manager positions. On the whole, women make up less than one-third of store management overall at Wal-Mart, which the suit contends is far less than the number of female managers employed by Wal-Mart’s main competitors. The plaintiffs also charge that Wal-Mart creates a “sexually demeaning atmosphere” for female employees, who are told “women do not make good managers.”