In 2001, six women filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. claiming gender discrimination in employment. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status in order to include as plaintiffs more than 1.5 million women employees who have worked at any of Wal-Mart's 3,400 stores in the U.S. since 1998.
The women claim that Wal-Mart intentionally discriminated against female employees based on gender by not paying them equal wages to their male counterparts and systematically passed female employees over for promotions. The lawsuit seeks billions of dollars in damages.
Wal-Mart recently appealed its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The trial still underway has to do with whether it is legal to give the lawsuit class-action status. The plaintiffs claim that gender discrimination was present and active across the entire company, which is why all female employees are included.
Wal-Mart has argued that the lawsuit is too big to defend against and says that it would be too difficult to prove that it did not discriminate against each one of the 1.5 million women it has ever employed.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted 6-5 in favor of the plaintiffs last April. The majority judges believed the case to be manageable. The dissenting justices agreed with Wal-Mart that it was wrong to group the women together because the women all had different situations surrounding their employment.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next year whether to take on the case.
Wal-Mart asks Supreme Court to block giant gender bias lawsuit (The Christian Science Monitor)