Walmart Inc. has agreed to work toward resolving the cases of 178 female employees who claim they were paid less than male co-workers or denied promotions because of their sex, a spokesman for the Bentonville retailer said Tuesday.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission it is "willing to engage in the conciliatory process" with all the women, who were part of a landmark class-action suit the U.S. Supreme Court ended in 2011.
Christine Webber, a partner with the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll representing the women, said the EEOC is urging the parties to reach a settlement. While there's no set deadline for resolution, she said, eventually the agency must decide whether the effort has failed. At that point, Webber said, the EEOC may file a lawsuit of its own.
Webber's firm filed charges with the EEOC on behalf of more than 1,900 female Walmart employees, she said. About 200 women over the years have asked the agency for a right-to-sue letter so they could speed the process by going to court. These "spinoff" cases have been making their way through the court system.
The 178 cause findings the EEOC sent to Walmart are the first it has issued in cases related to the huge, but now-defunct lawsuit, Webber said.
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