Wal-Mart is just not getting it: gender discrimination in the workplace really is illegal. From coast to coast, Wal-Mart is learning this principle one case at a time. This past summer, in Haddad v. Wal-Mart, a Berkshire County jury in Massachusetts awarded nearly $2 million to a former Wal-Mart pharmacist who was paid less then her male counterparts and later fired in retaliation for complaining. More recently, on December 11, 2007, the Ninth Circuit in Dukes et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. affirmed a class certification order. With the decision, Wal-Mart finds itself in the familiar position of defending claims of gender discrimination.
The case began in 2000. Betty Dukes, a 54-year-old Wal-Mart employee in California, worked for the company for six years. During her tenure, she received excellent performance reviews. Notwithstanding her stellar performance, Ms. Dukes was consistently passed up for promotions and salary increases that went to lesser qualified males. The deeper her attorneys dug, the more they realized that Ms. Dukes’ experience was not an isolated occurrence.
Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has become the largest civil rights class action suit in United States history, seeking redress for approximately 1.6 million women who work or have previously worked in a Wal-Mart store since December 1998. To say the least, this case is being closely followed.