August 8, 2005 Statement on Gender Discrimination Hearing

Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the largest class action gender lawsuit in U.S. history.  The lawsuit affects nearly 2 million former and current Wal-Mart female workers.

“”It is simply un-American for Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer, to have systematically discriminated against 2 million of its female employees.  We can only hope – for the sake of all current and former Wal-Mart women workers – that Wal-Mart will stop trying to fight this lawsuit and instead will finally wake-up and do what is right.

The gender discrimination lawsuit really demonstrates Wal-Mart’s two faces.  Wal-Mart smiles because it is able to tightly control every part of its business, but Wal-Mart frowns when someone holds them accountable for their bad behavior.  Wal-Mart’s argument that this case is too big is two-faced and silly.  Wal-Mart knew it had a problem, but chose to do nothing about it.

On behalf of all Americans, and all female workers, we will make sure Wal-Mart is held accountable for its abandonment of moral values in the relentless pursuit of greed.

Sadly, for too long, Wal-Mart has chosen a path that not only disrespects and mistreats its female workers, but all workers.  By paying poverty level wages, failing to provide affordable company health insurance, exploiting immigrant and child labor, and shifting their costs onto the American taxpayer, Wal-Mart has chosen to do what is wrong at the expense of what is good for its workers and America.””

Wal-Mart and Gender Discrimination

More than 700,000 women work for Wal-Mart, which makes the Company the largest private sector employer of women in the United States (

Analysis done in 2003 showed that while 2/3s of the company’s hourly workers were female, women held only 1/3 of managerial positions and constituted less than 15 % of store managers.  (Financial Times, 11/20/03)

For the same job classification, women earned from 5% to 15 % less than men, even after taking into account factors such as seniority and performance.  This divide in pay has been growing over time.  (“”Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart’s Workforce””, Dr. Richard Drogin 2003)

In 2001, women managers on average earned $14,500 less than their male counterparts. Female hourly workers earned on average $1,100 less than male counterparts.  (“”Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart’s Workforce””, Dr. Richard Drogin 2003)

In 2001 six women sued Wal-Mart, claiming the company discriminated against women by systematically denying them promotions and paying them less than men. The lawsuit, Dukes v. Wal-Mart, has expanded to include more than 1.6 million current and former female employees, and was certified on June 21, 2004 as the largest class action lawsuit ever. It is now being appealed by Wal-Mart.

Patterns of discrimination in promotion and pay were found in all regions where Wal-Mart operates in the United States. (“”Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart’s Workforce””, Dr. Richard Drogin 2003)

Documents produced during discovery showed that Wal-Mart formed a diversity committee in 1996, but, instead of implementing the committee’s recommendations, disbanded the panel. Two years later, Wal-Mart’s gender discrimination problem actually got worse.  [Bloomberg, 7/15/05]

An internal Wal-Mart document entitled, “”Minority/Gender Pay Analysis”” dated July 21, 2000, specifically states, “”Generally, average salaries for female and minority males are below the overall average pay for most jobs. Average pay increases for minority males and females are generally below overall average income ratio across most jobs.””  [Bloomberg, 7/15/05]

This led Jeffrey Reeves, a former vice president for personnel at the company’s Sam’s Club unit in a January 2003 deposition, when asked about whether or not management wanted to seriously address diversity, to state, “”I would say a lot was lip service.””  [Bloomberg, 7/15/05]