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1 Jan 2001

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Walmart lawsuit (re gender discrimination in USA)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
1 Jan 2001
Ort der Einreichung: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Ort des Vorfalls: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Art des Rechtsstreits: Inländisch


Walmart Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Supermärkte


In 2001, six female employees of Walmart filed suit against their company in US federal court alleging that Walmart discriminated against them in salary, bonuses and training.  After extensive discovery and oral argument, in 2003 the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint requesting that the court certify the case as a class action on behalf of current and former female Walmart employees maintaining that the discrimination faced by the original plaintiffs was systematic in nature and affected all women employed by Walmart.  In June of 2004, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The lawsuit represents approximately 1.5 million current and former female Walmart employees, which makes it the largest workplace bias case in US history.  Walmart appealed the class certification decision. 

In February of 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling granting class action status to this gender discrimination lawsuit.  In February 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Walmart's request for an en banc review of the lower court's ruling granting class action status.  This review was heard in late March 2009.  In April 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this lawsuit could move forward to trial as a class action lawsuit.  Walmart petitioned the Supreme Court in August 2010 asking it to hear an appeal of the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling allowing this lawsuit to proceed as a class action.  The company maintains that the claims should be handled individually (or in smaller groups) rather than as a class of more than one million women.  In December 2010 the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Walmart's appeal in this case.  The Court heard oral arguments in late March 2011.  The Court issued its ruling on 20 June 2011 reversing the court of appeals decision, and ruling that the class could not go forward.

On 27 October 2011, the plaintiffs re-filed their complaint with the federal court in San Francisco, claiming gender bias on behalf of workers in California.  On 16 January 2012, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the smaller proposed class action seeks to cover all women who were employed at any Walmart in any region that included a California store.  This motion to dismiss was rejected by the court of appeals in September 2012.  In August 2013, however, the district court issued an order denying the women class certification.  If the women want to pursue the claims against Walmart, they will have to each pursue their respective claims individually.

In June 2012, nearly 2,000 female Walmart employees filed discrimination charges against the company with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In November 2017, seven women who were part of the 2001 suit filed a new lawsuit in Florida Southern District Court alleging gender discrimination in compensation and promotion against Walmart and Sam’s Club female employees in three regions in the southeastern USA. The plaintiffs are asking for compensation including back pay and damages for lost compensation and job benefits. Walmart once again declared that these claims were not suited to qualify as class action.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in an unrelated case that, after a class action is dismissed, further actions have to be brought individually, not as smaller classes, to be considered timely. The plaintiffs remain resolute, claiming that the courts did not yet ruled on the actual claims but only on procedural matters.

In 2019, Walmart faced another wave of gender discrimination lawsuits filed by nearly 100 current and former female employees, alleging unequal pay and lack of opportunity.