Wal-Mart gender discrimination class action filed in Tennessee

Posted on: October 15th, 2012 by Steve Larson
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Three Tennessee women and long-time employees of Wal-Mart have filed a class action lawsuit against the discount retailer, claiming they were denied promotions because of their gender and paid less than their male counterparts.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nashville on Tuesday, targets employment practices in Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

The three plaintiffs, Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner and Shawn Gibbons have spent between 11 and 26 years working for stores in three different towns in Tennessee.  The complaint details years of bias and unequal pay.

Millner says in the complaint that she was accidentally handed a paycheck of a fellow assistant manager, and “discovered he was earning thousands of dollars more per year than she was despite having considerably less experience,” the lawsuit claims.  Other female workers, including a Navy veteran, were told they could not be promoted to management because it was a “man’s job.”  A manager at a Franklin, Tennessee store told a female worker that “women should be seen and not heard,” the lawsuit alleges.

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has been sued by female employees claiming the retailer has a culture of gender bias and unequal pay.  In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a class action lawsuit again Wal-Mart brought by a staggering 1.5 million female employees. It was the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history. In its findings, the court found the women’s jobs were too varied to sue as a class.

But the ruling did leave open the possibility of smaller class action suits, such as the one filed in Tennessee.

Wal-Mart is also fighting two other sex discrimination lawsuits — one in northern California and another in North Texas.