Kentucky Distribution Facility Denied Jobs to Female Applicants on a Systemic Basis, Federal Agency Charged
INDIANAPOLIS –Walmart Stores will pay $11.7 million in back wages and compensatory damages, its share of employer taxes, and up to $250,000 in administration fees and will furnish other relief, including jobs, to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Walmart’s London, Ky., Distribution Center denied jobs to female applicants from 1998 through February 2005. During that time period, the EEOC contends, Walmart regularly hired male entry-level applicants for warehouse positions, but excluded female applicants who were equally or better qualified. The EEOC alleged that Walmart regularly used gender stereotypes in filling entry-level order filler positions. Hiring officials told applicants that order filling positions were not suitable for women, and that they hired mainly 18- to 25-year-old males for order filling positions, the EEOC said.
Excluding women from employment or excluding them from certain positions because of gender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The consent decree settling the suit, entered by the court on March 1, 2010, requires Walmart to provide order filler jobs, as they become available, to eligible and interested female class members, as determined by a claims administrator. Walmart will fill the first 50 available order filler positions with female class members. For the next 50 positions, female class members will be offered every other job. Thereafter, every third position will be offered to female class members.
“Forty-plus years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, far too many employers are still blatantly excluding women from particular jobs, segregating their workforces on the basis of sex, and denying women equal pay for equal work,” said Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Let this major settlement serve as a warning: Employers must stop engaging in these outdated and sexist practices, or they will face severe legal consequences.”
Pursuant to the consent decree, Walmart has agreed not to discriminate against females in hiring for order filler positions and not to retaliate against applicants or employees who exercise their rights, complain about discrimination or assist in an investigation or discrimination-related proceeding. Walmart will post a notice of non-discrimination at its warehouse facilities in Kentucky, train its managers and employees involved in the hiring process at the London Distribution Center, and use validated interview questions for the order filler position. Walmart will also submit reports to EEOC detailing its compliance with the decree.
A settlement administrator will distribute the proceeds to eligible class members. Walmart has agreed to pay the first $250,000 of the administration costs.
Indianapolis EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Nancy Dean Edmonds said, “Although it took a long time, we are very pleased that women who want to work at the London Distribution Center will now be able to do so and those who were rejected will be compensated for their losses and offered jobs.”
Louisville EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Aimee McFerren added, “It is satisfying to know that the EEOC’s efforts will allow the women in eastern Kentucky affected by Walmart’s discriminatory practices to better themselves and their families.”
According to company information, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,416 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide.
Class members will be contacted by the Settlement Administrator. Updated information on the settlement will be available on the EEOC v. Wal-Mart information line (317) 226-5485.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.