WASHINGTON — A group of current and former female employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed a discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on Tuesday, alleging gender discrimination and seeking class-action status.
The new complaint in Tennessee covers 116 stores in Tennessee and also includes stores in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi, according to court documents.
“We are proud to represent these courageous women who are standing up for thousands of their fellow workers to fight back against Wal-Mart’s discriminatory employment practices with respect to pay and promotions,” said David Garrison, an attorney with the law firm Barrett Johnston, which represents the three female plaintiffs named in the complaint.
The gender bias lawsuit marks the third regional complaint filed in federal court against the retail giant, following two cases filed in district courts in California and Texas, which are also seeking class-action status. In a separate action, more than 2,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees have also filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, leveling the same charges against the retailer.
The action is the latest twist in a protracted legal battle between groups of female employees and Wal-Mart, which began with a discrimination lawsuit regarding pay and promotion in 2001 and eventually wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 as the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case.
The High Court ruled in Wal-Mart’s favor last year, reversing a ruling and class certification by the U.S. District Court in Northern California. In the majority opinion, the justices argued the case could not advance as a class action because the plaintiffs did not meet the critical legal standard of commonality.
“The class the plaintiffs now allege is no more appropriate than the class the Supreme Court has already rejected,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said. “Wal-Mart has strong policies against discrimination. As we have said all along these claims are unsuitable for class treatment because the situation of the individuals is so different and because the claims of these three [plaintiffs] are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of women who work at Wal-Mart.”
Since the Supreme Court determination, attorneys representing what they claim are tens of thousands of former and current employees have filed the three federal discrimination lawsuits and EEOC complaints against Wal-Mart.