In a move to protect their right to pursue individual and class action pay and promotion claims against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., more than 500 former and current Wal-Mart women employees who had been part of a national class action lawsuit have filed a charge of discrimination against the retailer with the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as of Friday, Jan. 27.
That was the deadline for women in five states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina – to pursue their claims. The vast majority of the EEOC charges – some 430 – were filed in those states since the June 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision reversing a lower court ruling certifying national class action against Wal-Mart. Women in all other states who previously filed class action claims against Wal-Mart, and its subsidiary Sam’s Club, have until May 25, 2012, to file a claim with the EEOC, the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
“The fight continues to seek justice for the women employees of Wal-Mart. The Supreme Court did not give Wal-Mart a free pass to discriminate. Filing an EEOC claim is one more way current and former women employees of Wal-Mart can assert their rights,” Joseph Sellers, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, of Washington, D.C., and Brad Seligman of the Impact Fund, of Berkeley, Calif., said in a statement. Their firms and local co-counsel represent the more than 500 women who have filed EEOC complaints, and serve as plaintiffs’ co-counsel for women filing class action lawsuits against Wal-Mart.
More than 12,000 women have contacted plaintiffs’ counsel directly or through the informational website, www.walmartclass.com, to discuss pursuing claims of gender-based pay and promotion discrimination. Even in the five states with the Jan. 27, 2012, filing deadline, women with pay and promotion discrimination charges against Wal-Mart from July 2011-on can file EEOC claims against the company.
“These EEOC charges are just the down-payment—we expect to file thousands of additional charges by the May 25, 2012, deadline. We urge women throughout the country who feel they have been discriminated against by Wal-Mart in pay and promotions to log onto the www.walmartclass.com site and register,” said Seligman.
Regional class action lawsuits on behalf of women plaintiffs who worked in California and Texas region Wal-Mart stores were filed in federal courts in those states in October 2011. An expanded class action lawsuit citing specific examples of discrimination and adding named plaintiffs was filed in Texas federal court on Jan. 19, 2012.