Saturday, January 15, 2011

Do the Women Of Wal-Mart Stand A Chance In The Sex-Discrimination Based Lawsuit?

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider tackling a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed in 2001 against the retailer, Wal-Mart.

If Wal-Mart gets away with discrimination this time, I really do believe that it will be years down the road before women get another chance to fight for their rights in the workforce again.

The Dukes v. Wal-Mart. lawsuit began when a 54 year old California female Wal-Mart employee decided to sue her employer claiming discrimination. The discrimination, according to the employee, was in terms of pay and promotion on the basis of her gender.

Wal-Mart was accused of preventing the employee, and other females working for the retailer, from getting training that would allow them to get higher paying jobs.

But over the ten years since the lawsuit was filed, the conflict between the single employee and the large retailer grew to include more than 1.5 million women who were working for Wal-Mart across 3,400 stores in the US. 

Today, these women are still being paid less than men for similar jobs and are suffering with the lack of promotions. The allegations against Wal-Mart have yet to be put to a trial but the issues are left to the justices of the Supreme Court to decide whether the hundreds of thousands of female employees working at Wal-Mart can join together as a "class" to be represented by a handful of named plaintiffs.

Class-action suits are pretty much the only way for workers to receive justice. The women of Wal-Mart could never really win the lawsuit if they proceed with the anti-discrimination claims individually.

It’s really all left in the court’s hands to decide whether they can stand a chance against the retailing giant. And this case is so important because if the conservative Supreme Court dramatically narrows the criteria for determining what a class is, Wal-Mart will succeed and the victims of discrimination in future cases will find it even more difficult to find justice.

Protecting Wal-Mart in this particular case will only hold women back in the fight for women to be treated equally to their male counterparts in the workforce.

As of today, there is still a wage gap between genders in the workplace as a whole and there really shouldn’t be.

Women perform their duties just as well as their male counterparts do in the same positions. They pay the same amount for housing, utilities and food as men do, and women are no less inferior to men.

And while single mothers get screwed over with less pay than single fathers, our “first world” country is completely fine with the fact that women earn only 77 cents for every dollar men make according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The fight for equality should start right now with this case.

Right now there is currently no limit on the size of a class, and I agree that there really shouldn’t be a limit. The case involving the women of Wal-Mart follow Rule 23 stating that there is no conflict of interest among the group and that there is a commonality in their complaints.

It’s not just a feminist idea that there shouldn’t be a wage gap between the genders but a civil rights idea. There needs to be equality in the labor force regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation or creed—and to be honest—I’m disappointed that we haven’t reached equality in 21st Century America.

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