Tennessee women file discrimination lawsuit against Walmart - WKRN News 2

Tennessee women file discrimination lawsuit against Walmart

Posted: Updated: Oct 2, 2012 09:54 PM

Lawyers representing three Tennessee women filed a class-action lawsuit against Walmart Tuesday claiming the retail giant gives unequal treatment to female employees.

Evidence in the case shows that women who hold salaried and hourly positions in Walmart stores in the region that includes Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi, have been paid far less than men in comparable positions, although on average, the women have more seniority and higher performance ratings than men.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, is the third regional discrimination case lodged against Walmart since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling on a national class action against the retailer in June of 2011.

The named plaintiffs, Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner and Shawn Gibbons, seek to represent thousands of current and former women employees.

"We seek justice for ourselves and all Walmart women workers in this region who have been denied equal pay and opportunities for promotion," Phipps, a Walmart employee for 11 years, said in a statement.

Phipps was denied entry into the Walmart Management Trainee Program after a district manager said she "was not good enough to be in management." At the same time, a less experienced male coworker was accepted into the program.

Millner, a Walmart employee for 26 years, was inadvertently given the paycheck of a fellow assistant manager and discovered that he was earning thousands more per year than she was, despite having considerably less experience.

On another occasion, a store manager told Millner that "men needed to earn more money because they raised families."

Gibbons, a Walmart employee since 1993, has also been denied enrollment in the Walmart Management Trainee Program and despite her six years of retail experience prior to joining Walmart, and her years employed by the retailer, she was told that "she needed more experience in hourly management" before she could apply.

The women are not alone.  Evidence shows that female employees in stores throughout the region were told they could not be promoted because the position in question was "a man's job."

A manager at a store in Franklin told a female worker that "women should be seen and not heard," while another store manager in Jackson frequently admonished women that they should "stay home and cook quality meals for their husbands."

In McMinnville, a female Walmart employee was told that the promotion she had been given had been rescinded and given to a male coworker because "a man can do a better job than a woman" and in Cookeville, a store manager informed a woman transferring to his store that she would have to take a pay cut because women do not make "that kind of money" at the store.

The class includes women who worked at Walmart stores and were subject to pay and promotion discrimination at any time since December 26, 1998.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Walmart issued a statement to Nashville's News 2 that reads, "The class the plaintiffs now allege is no more appropriate than the nationwide class the Supreme Court has already rejected. Walmart 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 Walmart."

On Nashville's News 2 at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, reporter Tracee Tolentino will speak to one of the victim's suing the retailer.

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