Walmart claims discrimination too varied to be discrimination

Once again, women are suing Wal-Mart for discriminating against them based on their gender, seeking  “to end Wal-Mart’s discriminatory practices regarding the pay and promotion of female employees.”

Tuesday, Three women from Tennessee claimed they were denied training opportunities and were paid less than their male co-workers and are seeking class-action status for current and former female employees at stores in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. One of the women suing, Bobbie Millner, accidentally received the paycheck of another worker who was male and earned thousands more a year, although he was less experienced.  A Wal-Mart manager explain the discrepancy by saying “men needed to earn more.”

In 2011, the Supreme Court rejected a class action suit that represented 1.5 million women suing for discrimination. The court argued that the discrimination was too varied to be considered nationwide discrimination. If only they had set out a clear and consistent policy and guidebook!

And again, Walmart’s excuse is our discrimination against workers is too diverse, official policy, and not inflicted on every single woman who works for us, so we’re innocent. I’m not kidding. Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said “As we have said all along, these claims are unsuitable for class treatment because the individual situations are so different and because the claims of these three people are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of women who work at Wal-Mart.”

In totally related news, as Allison Kilkenny reports, hundreds of people gathered on Monday at a major Walmart distribution center Monday in Elwood, Illinois,  to support workers who have been on strike since mid-September over issues including sexual harassment.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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