December 28, 2005

Duke vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Duke vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the largest civil rights class-action suit in American history. It charges Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retail chain, with discriminating against women in promotions, pay and job assignments

The case started in 2000, when a 54-year-old Wal-Mart worker in California named Betty Dukes filed a sex discrimination claim against her employer. Despite six years of hard work and excellent performance reviews, Dukes claimed, she was denied the training she needed to advance to a higher, salaried position. Plaintiffs seek to represent 1.6 million women, comprising both current and former employees, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. In June 2004, the federal district judge, Martin Jenkins, ruled in favor of class certification. Wal-Mart is appealing the decision, which has been criticized by conservatives as an inappropriate use of the class action mechanism.

In 2004, journalist Liza Featherstone published a book about the case, Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart in which she contends that Wal-Mart's success is based not only on its inexpensive merchandise or its popularity but also on bad labor practices.


Photo, Planet Mars, Author Unknown.