Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Promising development

A federal judge granted the sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart class action status today. This is just fantastic news; anti-sex discrimination laws have no meaning if there the enforcement mechanisms don't have teeth.
Do the women have a case? My guess is yes:

The lawsuit, brought three years ago in San Francisco, asserts that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest company, systematically discriminated against women in pay and promotions. The lawsuit noted that while 65 percent of Wal-Mart's employees were women when the lawsuit was filed, only 33 percent of Wal-Mart's managers were women.

As I posted earlier, it's more common than not to watch less-qualified men get promoted over women in many, if not most workplaces. Often, it's not intentional, but just the result of unconscious sexism, the tendency of both men and women to assume men are naturally more competent. (I got to hear a bunch of this today, as my co-workers discussed their fears that a woman will get promoted into the recently opened director's position at my office. I didn't want to get into it; I just said that I've worked for all sorts of women and some were good and some were bad.)
But there will be those who say the women are just whining, that it's only a handful of women spoiled by feminism, that there are always a few litigious people out there. When you hear this, remind them that there are 1.6 million women attached to the case. Walmart currently employs 1.2 million people.

Wal-Mart officials said they planned to appeal the ruling, which would include nearly all women who have worked at Wal-Mart since December 1998.

If the plantiffs win this lawsuit, there is a good chance that there may be some real corporate reform regarding pay inequity between men and women. Certainly, as this lawsuit goes forward, the issue will get some badly-needed press.

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