Excerpted from Business Journals By Anne Stych
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) believes Walmart may have paid some women less or denied them promotions because of their gender and has directed the company to resolve the matter or face a lawsuit, according to documents shared with The Wall Street Journal by a law firm that represented women in a failed 2001 class-action suit against the retailer.
The memos provided to WSJ by Milstein Sellers & Toll showed that the EEOC has found reasonable cause that 178 women workers in 30 states experienced pay or promotion discrimination.
But Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said that in the majority of cases, the reasonable cause findings are “vague and non-specific,” noting that the allegations are more than 15 years old and “are not representative of the positive experiences millions of women have had working at Walmart,” per CNBC.
Walmart (NYSE: WMT) has 2.2 million employees worldwide, including 1.5 million in the United States. The company’s 2017 diversity and inclusion report said 55 percent of Walmart associates were women, including 43 percent of managers and 30 percent of officers.
In 2004, Walmart made administrative changes to its pay structure that resulted in pay increases for both genders after an analysis by an outside firm, per WSJ.
The 2001 class action claimed 1.6 million female Walmart workers had been paid and promoted less than men but was rejected in 2011 when the U.S. Supreme Court determined the plaintiffs had too little in common to form a class.
More than 1,900 women have pursued sex discrimination cases against the retailer since then, said Christine Webber Cohen, a partner at Milstein Sellers & Toll, and more than 1,700 women still have EEOC claims pending against the company.