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June 20, 2001
Suit: Wal-Mart Kept Women From Promotions
Six
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women claim in a lawsuit that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, discriminated against them by denying them promotions.

A lawyer for the women, Joseph Sellers, said on CBS' "The Early Show" on Tuesday that he and other lawyers have spent more than a year securing evidence for their case, interviewing more than 50 women across the country and reviewing personnel documents and work force data.

"We found a dramatic disparity in the proportion of women in management at Wal-Mart compared to the top 20 other retailers in the country," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Sellers said there are almost double the number of women in management at other retail stores. In addition, women receive lower pay than men at Wal-Mart, and women only get certain job assignments.

The suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, comes only days after Wal-Mart was found in contempt of a consent decree stemming from two deaf job applicants' claims that the company discriminated against them. A federal judge hearing that case in Tucson, Ariz., has ordered the retailer to air a commercial in which it admits violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. Wal-Mart has asked the judge to reconsider.

Wal-Mart spokesman Bill Wertz defended the Arkansas-based company against the new charges on Tuesday.

"Wal-Mart does not condone discrimination of any kind," he said. "Women hold positions of significant responsibility at Wal-Mart."

He said key positions with women in charge include the chief executive of walmart.com, one of three executive vice presidents of Sam's Club, and high positions in the company's labor relations and legal departments.

Wertz said women hold 37 percent of 55,000 management positions at Wal-Mart.

In addition, he said Wal-Mart does not count store department managers as management, while other retailers might, thereby inflating their proportions.

Kimberly Miller, one of the plaintiffs, said on "The Early Show" that she began her career at Wal-Mart as a cashier and has worked in several departments and received good evaluations.

She said she was told that if she worked hard, she'd be promoted.

"I was mistreated because I did 110 percent," she said. "I was still never given the opportunity for advancement."

Joining Miller as plaintiffs in the suit are five current and former employees, each from a different state.
The AP reported that they have not said what they're seeking.

Miller said a less experienced male co-worker in her department was promoted instead of her twice, and that Wal-Mart should reevaluate how it treats female workers.

"They need to decide that you should be promoted for your achievements and not your gender," she said.

To view the Associated Press article, click here.
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