A lawsuit against Wal-Mart has become the largest civil right class action case in history. The lawsuit in question claims that the nation-wide retail chain discriminated against women in pay, promotions, and training. Indeed, seventy-percent of Wal-Mart’s hourly workers are women, but they hold fewer than 15 percent of the management positions with the chain. The lawsuit could represent as many as one-and-a-half million current and former female employees.
So, where does the case stand? Wal-Mart hasn’t lost the actual case yet. Rather, a judge has simply certified the case to be a class-action lawsuit, meaning that current and former female Wal-Mart employees can join the class action and get part of the proceeds, should Wal-Mart ultimately lose the lawsuit. The participants can, theoretically, include every woman who has worked for Wal-Mart since December 1998, making this the largest class-action lawsuit in our nation’s history. If the women win, more than a million who worked for Wal-Mart could receive a check for back pay, and those with evidence they were passed over for a promotion by lesser-qualified men could get even more.