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 andNorth Carolina – to pursue their claims, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys Joseph Sellers, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Brad Seligman, the Impact Fund, who represent the women. 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 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 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,” Sellers and Seligman said in a statement. 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 thewww.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 was filed in Texas federal court in January 2012.
SOURCE Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and the Impact Fund
By Alejandra Cancino- Chicago Tribune reporter.
Employees filed nearly 100,000 discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal 2011, the highest number in the commission’s 46 year history, according to a report released Thursday by law firm Littler Mendelson P.C.
A portion of the report focused on systemic discrimination cases, which involve more than 20 victims. It found that in 40 percent of the investigations completed in this area, the commission determined it reasonable to conclude that the employers’ policies or practices were discriminatory.
“These statistics are disconcerting for employers,” Barry Hartstein, lead author of the report, said in a statement. “Reasonable cause determinations are typically issued in only five percent of charges that the EEOC investigates.”
Although the commission will continue fighting cases of systemic discrimination, the report says that the lawsuits filed by the commission have been subjected to close scrutiny. In two recent lawsuits, employers were awarded over $7 million in attorneys’ fees based on what the courts called “sue first, ask questions later litigation strategy,” according to the report.
Last fiscal year, the commission filed 261 merit-based suits against companies, 11 more than in fiscal year 2010. Of those, 84 had multiple victims and 23 were considered systemic. The leading cause for lawsuits was disability discrimination, followed by retaliation, sexual harassment and race discrimination.
The top five states where lawsuits were filed were California, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. Illinois was sixth, with 15 lawsuits.