Equal Opportunity Shouldn’t End at “You’re Hired”

By Courtney Shaffer
USW Intern

Walmart, one of the world’s largest employers, is again facing the prospect of a class action lawsuit alleging the company discriminates in its promotion and pay practices, favoring men over women workers.

The complaint, filed on Nov. 6, mirrors one filed in 2001. In the earlier case,  1.6 million women gained class certification in 2004. But in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that class action designation, claiming the case was too big. Since then, more than 2,000 women have filed new claims regarding workplace discrimination.

Walmart is supposed to be an equal opportunity employer. That means it would be illegal for Walmart to violate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s anti-discrimination guidelines, not just in the hiring process, but in all aspects of paying and promoting workers.

The women who are plaintiffs in the current case claim Walmart continues to fail in this basic measure of employment equality.  They say that the criteria managers use to promote workers does not always include industry experience or job performance, often leaving qualified, experienced women out of the running for better jobs.

They also claim that Walmart has failed to openly announce job openings or include information such as the need to relocate or travel, which has put women at a further disadvantage. 

Class action lawsuits are among the few methods nonunion employees can use to seek redress for unfair treatment by employers.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision to grant class certification in the 2001 case, it has been substantially more difficult for women to secure judicial intervention in workplace disputes against employers like Walmart.

To increase the chances for this claim to be successful, the workers filed a complaint for workers only in the southeast region of the United States, representing thousands of employees rather than a million plus.

“Wal-Mart maintained a pattern or practice of gender discrimination in compensation and promotion,"  the complaint states. “And, in each of the above regions, the compensation and promotion policies and practices of Wal-Mart had a disparate impact, not justified by business necessity, on its female employees in the region.”

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work