Wal-Mart to Pay More Than $11.7 Million to Settle Sex Discrimination Suit

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $11.7 million in back wages and compensatory damages, its share of employer taxes, and up to $250,000 in administration fees. The company will furnish other relief, including jobs, to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Monday.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Wal-Mart’s London, Ky., distribution center denied jobs to female applicants from 1998 to February 2005. During that time period, EEOC contends, Wal-Mart regularly hired male entry-level applicants for warehouse positions, but excluded female appli¬cants who were equally or better qualified. The EEOC alleged that Wal-Mart regularly used gender stereotypes in filling entry-level order filler positions. Hiring officials told applicants that order filling positions were not suitable for women, and that they hired mainly 18- to 25-year-old males for order filling positions, EEOC said.

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by the court on March 1, 2010, requires Wal-Mart to provide order filler jobs, as they become available, to eligible and interested female class members, as determined by a claims administrator. Wal-Mart will fill the first 50 available order filler positions with female class members. For the next 50 positions, female class members will be offered every other job. Thereafter, every third position will be offered to female class members.

“Forty-plus years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, far too many employers are still blatantly excluding women from particular jobs, segregating their workforces on the basis of sex, and denying women equal pay for equal work,” said acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Let this major settlement serve as a warning: Employers must stop engaging in these outdated and sexist practices, or they will face severe legal consequences.”

A settlement administrator will distribute the proceeds to eligible class members. Wal-Mart has agreed to pay the first $250,000 of the administration costs.

Indianapolis EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Nancy Dean Edmonds said, “Although it took a long time, we are very pleased that women who want to work at the London Distribution Center will now be able to do so and those who were rejected will be compensated for their losses and offered jobs.”

Louisville EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Aimee McFerren added, “It is satisfying to know that the EEOC’s efforts will allow the women in eastern Kentucky affected by Wal-Mart’s discriminatory practices to better themselves and their families.”

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