Walmart: The Lawsuit Strikes Back

The attorneys engaged in a drawn-out litigation with Walmart lost a big suit four months ago. The U.S. Supreme Court put an end to the 10 year old nation-wide class action suit against the giant retailer alleging gender discrimination. The lawsuit was commenced by 1.6 million past and present employees.

The suit alleged that Plaintiffs could prove Walmart routinely discriminated against women and that the company’s corporate culture was rampant with stereotypes. However, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the Court’s Opinion, ruled that the women failed to assert a prima facie argument of discrimination by Walmart.

Plaintiffs pursued the litigation further since the Supreme Court did not decide whether Walmart had actually discriminated or closed the door on smaller class actions. This allowed Plaintiffs’ attorneys the ability just amend the Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in hopes of getting recovery for their clients. This revised Complaint limited the potential class to current and former employees who work in the company’s California stores. Thus, now the suit is brought on behalf of only 95,000 Walmart employees.

The attorneys state that they will introduce new evidence of sex-stereotype comments made by the company’s chief executive. The evidence purports to show that Walmart, with more than 200 stores in California, paid women less than men and promoted them less often, even when they were more experienced and qualified. Further, in a January 2004 message to all district managers from around the nation, then CEO Thomas Coughlin stated that the key to success in choosing leaders was “single focus to get the job done”, he further stated that “women tend to be better at information processing, men are better at focus,” which, for Plaintiffs constitute proof of gender discrimination.

This lawsuit seeks back pay for women who worked at Walmart’s locations in California between December 1998 through June 2004. In response, Walmart attorney, Theodore Boutrous, said the Plaintiffs’ lawyers “rely on the same incorrect and discredited theories that the U.S. Supreme Court repudiated.”