This week, 11 Florida women filed a federal lawsuit against Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, for gender discrimination in promotions, with the hope of more women across the country coming forward as victims. When one Florida employee asked her boss how she could go about finding a higher-paying position, she was reportedly told that "Single mothers like you don't deserve to make as much."
According to the suit, the pay disparity between men and women in salaried position was as much as $25,000 a year. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 1.5 million women employees of Walmart since December 1998, but four suits have been filed nationwide since the dismissal. Walmart alleges that this is a ploy to 'recycle' the same claims against the company, but others may argue that it shows the dedication of these women to improve the employer's workplace.
Intentional discrimination on the part of an employer is never acceptable, and if it can be proven in court, it can be changed and prevented in the future. It can be a great challenge for people who are discriminated against for any reason in the workplace to come forward. Some may fear retaliation; others may just be uncomfortable with confrontation. Whatever the other factors, bringing attention to this important issue is the only way to change the culture of a workplace.
People who feel that they have been discriminated against in the workplace may not know what their legal rights are or how to proceed with alleging discrimination. Speaking with a qualified attorney experienced in employment law can help to get the process started and present options that you may not know about.
Source: the Palm Beach Post, "Female ex-Walmart employees file federal discrimination suit over promotions," Jane Musgrave, Oct. 4, 2012