MisFortune 500
a project of
Women's Environment & Development Organization
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
25 November - 10 December 2007
Day 4
Wal-Mart retail workers file historic sex discrimination law suit

Wal-Mart's slogan of "Always Low Prices" has tremendous implications for employees around the world. Wal-Mart is world's largest retail company and frequent #1 rank on the Fortune 500 list, grossing USD $351.1 billion in 2006. However, employees in their supply chain - primarily women - often work in dangerous working conditions, without compensation for overtime or increased quotas, and receive wages as low as USD $0.20 per hour. And women working at Wal-Mart retail stores are continuously facing discrimination in promotions, training, and pay.

Wal-Mart ranks second behind the U.S. government as the most-sued organization in the world. Many of those lawsuits come from their female employees, both in its supply chain in developing countries and in their retail stores, mainly based in the United States.

The largest of these lawsuits was upheld on 06 February 2007, when the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals certified Dukes v Wal-Mart Stores Inc., ruling that six plaintiffs - Betty Dukes, Patricia Surgeson, Cleo Page, Debra Gunter, Edith Arana and Christine Kwapnoski - may represent all female employees who worked at Wal-Mart any time since 26 December 1998 in a nationwide sex discrimination lawsuit.

Dukes v Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the largest class action lawsuit in US history, which now includes more than 1.6 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart retail stores in the US, including Wal-Mart discount stores, super centers, neighborhood stores, and Sam's Clubs, and charges that the company discriminates against its female retail employees in pay and promotions, for which they seek injunctive relief, back pay, and punitive damages.

According to the Wal-Mart Class website, women comprise 92% of Wal-Mart's cashiers, but only 14% of Wal-Mart's store managers. Female hourly workers earned up to 37 cents less per hour than their male counterparts. They further state: "Although more than two thirds (2/3) of its hourly employees are female, they hold only one third (1/3) of store management jobs, and less that 15% of store manager positions.  In addition, as Wal-Mart's own workforce data reveals, women in every major job category at Wal-Mart have been paid less than men with the same seniority, in every year since 1997 even though the female employees on average have higher performance ratings and less turnover than men."
Get the Balance Right!
Wal-Mart Watch predicts that the judgment in this lawsuit could "fundamentally alter the way in which Wal-Mart treats women at every level in its workplace, thereby impacting how companies treat their women employees everywhere."

The case will likely take several years before going to trial.

Information from Gender Discrimination at Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart Watch), Wal-Mart Class website and MisFortune 500.
Quick Links...
Contact Information
Wal-Mart Watch: chimrod@walmartwatch.com
Wal-Mart Class: info@walmartclass.com

MisFortune 500: info@misfortune.org
16 Days Campaign

The annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign helps raise awareness about gender violence and its effects on women globally. During the 2007 campaign, MisFortune 500 will feature some of the leading stories of 2007 year that demonstrate what women continue to be up against and ways they are resisting violence and working for change.