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Wal-Mart targeted by class action lawsuit in Tennessee

Posted On: Oct. 3, 2012 12:00 AM CST

Three Tennessee women filed a putative class action lawsuit Tuesday charging Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with gender discrimination in its Region 43, which centers in Tennessee and includes parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

Regionally focused litigation has previously been filed against the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer in California and Texas. A federal judge refused to dismiss the California litigation last week.

In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a proposed class of some 1.5 million members nationwide in the case.

Plaintiffs in the latest litigation, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn., are Cheryl Phipps, who has been employed by Wal-Mart for 11 years; Bobbi Millner, employed by Wal-Mart for 26 years; and Shawn Gibbons, who has worked for the retailer for 19 years.

The litigation charges Wal-Mart with denial of equal pay for hourly retail store positions and for salaried management positions up to and including co-manager; and with denial of equal opportunities for promotion to management-track positions up to and including store manager.

The proposed class includes an unspecified number of women who worked at the retailer and were subject to pay and promotion discrimination at any time since December 1998.

Wal-Mart said in a statement: “The class the plaintiffs now allege is no more appropriate than the nationwide class the Supreme Court has already rejected. Wal-Mart has strong policies against discrimination.

“As we have said all along, these claims are unsuitable for class treatment because the situations of each individual are so different and because the claims of these three plaintiffs are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of women who work at Wal-Mart.”