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Wal-Mart faces gender bias class action in several Midwest states

Wal-Mart faces gender bias class action in several Midwest states

A putative gender discrimination class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of past and present Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employees in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, gender discrimination filed in Tennessee against Bentonville, Ark-based Wal-Mart has been dismissed.

Sandra Ladik et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., joins other litigation filed elsewhere in the country against the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer. In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a proposed class of some 1.5 million members nationwide in the case.

The Wisconsin lawsuit charges that Wal-Mart “maintained a pattern or practice of gender discrimination in compensation and promotion practices, and that its compensation and promotion policies and practices had a disparate impact, not justified by business necessity, on its female employees whose claims arose, and continue to arise, in what was formally known as Region 14.”

The lawsuit does not say how many women are in the proposed class.

Lead plaintiff Sandra Ladik worked in a Portage, Wis., Wal-Mart store from about June 1992 until November, 2006.

Plaintiff attorney Jim Kaster of Nichols Kaster P.L.L.P in Minneapolis, said in a statement, “Wal-Mart has been successful in making technical legal arguments preventing courts from reaching the merits of women's' claims, and we expect more of these arguments here. Nevertheless, we hope that the court in Wisconsin will, after this long period of waiting, finally allow their claims to be heard by a jury.”


In a ruling issued last week, Justice Aleta Trauger of federal district court in Nashville, dismissed comparable litigation in Cheryl Phipps et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., stating it was time-barred.

In addition, federal district judge Reed O'Connor in Dallas issued a similar ruling in October, in Stephanie Odle et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

In a statement Wednesday, Wal-Mart said, “A Tennessee court last week came to the same conclusion as a Texas court ruling last October — that these class action claims are not appropriate. We've said all along that if someone believes they have been treated unfairly, they deserve to have their timely, individual claims heard in court.

“We have had strong policies against discrimination for many years and have a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates. In fact, we have created specific training and mentoring programs to help prepare women for opportunities at all levels in our company. These individual claims being made by the plaintiffs just don't match the positive experiences that hundreds of thousands of women have had working at Walmart. We continue to be a great place for women to work and advance.”

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