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Judge hears arguments in Wal-Mart lawsuit.

A federal judge in San Francisco last week heard arguments about whether the discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. should be elevated to class-action status.

If the lawsuit is granted class-action status, it could gain about 1.5 million plaintiffs, making it the largest sex discrimination suit filed against any private U.S. employer. Wal-Mart has opposed the move, saying the lawsuit would be too large to manage.

The lawsuit stems from charges by seven of the retailer's former employees who allege Wal-Mart discriminates against women.

Wal-Mart is world's largest retailer and the nation's largest private employer.

The lawsuit was originally filed in San Francisco in June 2001. It says that Wal-Mart has discriminated against women workers in Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs stores nationwide, denying them promotions and equal pay.

According to the lawsuit, there are about double the number of women in management at competing retail stores, and men Wal-Mart workers get higher pay than women for the same duties. It says Wal-Mart passes over women for promotions and training and retaliates against women who complain.

Wal-Mart has said there is no basis for a finding of systemwide discrimination.

"Wal-Mart is a great place for women to work, and isolated complaints do not change this fact," Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president for communications, said in the Aug. 18 issue of Arkansas Business. "Wal-Mart does not tolerate discrimination against women or anyone else."

U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins is not expected to rule immediately.
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Source: Center for Digital Government
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Title Annotation:Retail
Author:Turner, Lance
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 29, 2003
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