retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that “more than 500 current and former female employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have filed discrimination claims against the retailer with the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission after a national class-action lawsuit was blocked by the Supreme Court last year ... the 500 or so Wal-Mart workers are from five states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina -- and were required to file by a Jan. 27. deadline in order to pursue their claims.”

The story says that “employees in the other 45 states have until May 25 to file with the EEOC, and thousands are expected to do so in the coming months.”

The US Supreme Court ruled last year in a 5-4 decision that the various discrimination claims described in a lawsuit said to represent 1.5 million women did not rise to the level needed to be classified as a class action; the court said that there had to definitive proof that the company had a policy of discrimination, not just unconnected episodes of discrimination not sanctioned by policy.

A Walmart spokesman responded to the new suits by saying that anyone with a complaint should have her day in court, and noting that the claims had never been heard on their merits.
KC's View:
I have no idea how the legalities will work out, but I have a feeling that Walmart may have to the piper on this, though it could take a long time to get to that point.

In the same way that I feel that companies have to go farther than what is legally required when it comes to dealing with issues such as food safety, I also believe that companies are ultimately responsible if a destructive culture is allowed to fester within their walls, even if there is no official enabling policy. This has nothing to do with intent or malevolence ... just taking responsibility.