WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is continuing its vigorous defense against allegations of discrimination stemming from charges leveled by Betty Dukes, and joined by a group of former and current female employees, who have filed charges with the Equal Opportunity Commission and two separate complaints in district courts in California and Texas seeking class-action status.

This story first appeared in the March 28, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Attorneys representing the women said in February that more than 500 current and former female employees of Wal-Mart from five states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina — had filed the charges with the EEOC.

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The action followed a protracted battle between a group of female employees and the retail giant, beginning in 2001 with a gender discrimination lawsuit regarding pay and promotion that received class-action status in 2004 from the U.S. District Court in Northern California. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in Wal-Mart’s favor last June, reversing the district court’s ruling, saying the case could not advance as a class action because the plaintiffs did not meet the critical legal standard of commonality.

The attorneys in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Supreme Court case subsequently filed an amended complaint in the district court in October that largely encompasses Wal-Mart’s regional stores in California and an estimated 95,000 current and former employees who worked at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores from December 1998 to the present. A second complaint seeking class-action certification for another group of women in Texas was filed in a district court in that state.

“First, we continue to believe that anyone with a legitimate claim should have their day in court,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said in February. “I would also point out that these claims have never been heard on their merits…The truth is, Wal-Mart is a great place for women to work. We are ready to defend our record because it is a record we are proud of.”

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