Wal-Mart class action could cost retail giant billions

Wal-Mart is a brand that consumers associate with low prices, but their own price for sexual discrimination could be billions of dollars, if over 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees since 2001 have their way.

Wal-Mart is under attack in the largest class action lawsuit in history. Sexual discrimination against employees could cost them billions of dollars. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Associated Press reports that the ongoing Wal-Mart class action lawsuit involving sexual discrimination against female employees could be the largest in history. Despite a “sharply divided” ruling from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, their 6-5 ruling finds that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. must face charges. These charges include claims that female employees have been paid less than men for the same jobs, receive fewer promotions and must wait longer before they are eventually promoted.

The Wal-Mart class action will go to trial

Wal-Mart has faced class action suits before, but nothing like this. What began as six female employees in San Francisco filing suit back in 2001 has gone through various trial and appeals courts since then. The retailer managed to convince the appeals court in 2007 to revisit their decision, arguing that the number of litigants in the sexual discrimination class action lawsuit is “too big to defend.” However, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins decreed that size alone doesn’t make a class action unmanageable.

Dissent led by Judge Sandra Ikuta was blistering. In her statement, Judge Ikuta wrote that

“No court has ever certified a class like this one, until now. And with good reason… In this case, six women who have worked in 13 of Wal-Marts 3,400 stores seek to represent every woman who has worked in those stores over the course of the last decade — a class estimated in 2001 to include more than 1.5 million women.”

No sexual discrimination class action too large

While it sounds unbelievable to five federal judges and Wal-Mart, six federal judges and 1.5 million female former Wal-Mart employees believe that the retail giant should pay for its years of mistreatment. Wal-Mart has yet to respond to the appeals court ruling, other than to say that a statement is currently being prepared. This legal turn of events has apparently weighed heavily upon the minds of investors, as Wal-Mart dropped 27 cents off its share price (down to $54.26) after the judgment.

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