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Wal-Mart Attempts to Boost Image

Embroiled in litigation alleging gender discrimination and workplace abuses, Wal-Mart has turned to public relations consultants to revamp its embattled reputation, the New York Times reported. The world’s largest retailer, dubbed the “Merchant of Shame” by the National Organization of Women (NOW), is the most sued retailer in the countryÑfacing charges ranging from pay discrimination to violation of child labor laws to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, NOW reports. As part of the renewed efforts at damage control, consultants at Fleishma-Hillard are conducting “reputation research,” gathering data from polls, focus groups and phone interviews, and holding routine updates for Wal-Mart board members. In addition, Wal-Mart has launched radio and television ads depicting it as a great place to work.

Last May, seven women filed for class-action status in their lawsuit against the nation’s largest private employer. The federal court filing, which alleges systematic sex discrimination in pay, promotion, and training, could potentially balloon the case Dukes v. Wal-Mart to include more than 1.5 million current and former female workers employed at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club since December 26, 1998–making it the largest employment discrimination case in history, according to Law.com. The class certification court hearing is re-scheduled for next month.

Sources:

NY Times 8/14/03; WalMartclass.com 4/28/03, 8/14/03; Fortune 7/7/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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