June 30, 2004

Time on "Wal-Mart's Gender Gap"

Yet another must-read article on the subject, this one is featured within the Business section of the Monday, July 05, 2004 edition of Time Magazine:

Wal-Mart's Gender Gap

What a landmark lawsuit aims to prove about how the No. 1 retailer pays its female workers
By LISA TAKEUCHI CULLEN/WILSON


Monday, Jul. 05, 2004
Gretchen Adams has more than a few bones to pick with Wal-Mart, but she figures its treatment of women is a good place to start. The mother of four took an hourly job at a Wal-Mart in Stillwater, Okla., in 1993 and was quickly promoted to head the deli department. Soon she was managing 60 workers and flying around the country to train hundreds more. When she learned that a man she had trained was earning $3,500 more than she was, "they told me it was a fluke." But as other male colleagues leapfrogged past, her salary never rose above $60,000 and she never landed the promised job of store manager. When she complained, "they told me where to go," says Adams, 57. She quit at the end of 2001.

Adams may yet have the last laugh. The retail giant � the nation's biggest private employer � has weathered a yearlong maelstrom of bad press about its employment practices. More than 30 lawsuits have accused it of cheating workers out of overtime pay. In a case in Oregon, the company was found to have forced employees to punch out and then return to work off the clock. A federal investigation discovered that in dozens of stores Wal-Mart used contractors that hired illegal immigrants. Now a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed in 2001 by six women can proceed as a class action on behalf of all Wal-Mart's current and former female employees. With up to 1.6 million plaintiffs, it will be the largest private civil rights case in U.S. history.

In many ways, Wal-Mart's problems stem from the conservative, Southern culture fostered by founder Sam Walton, according to Ellen Rosen, who is writing a book about the role of women at retail companies, including Wal-Mart. The old-fashioned values were one of the things that attracted Deborah Zambrana, 37, an 11-year employee of the store in Wilson, N.C. Then a note she wrote requesting help sorting lingerie came back scrawled with a chauvinist comment. When a male colleague admitted to the deed, "instead of being reprimanded," says Zambrana, who like Adams is not one of the lead plaintiffs, "he was promoted to assistant manager."

[...]

The rest of the article can be found here.

*Update*

Meanwhile, in today's edition, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports about how another:

Former Wal-Mart worker details bias
She says she was passed over for promotion; chain says any incident would be 'isolated'

Posted by Morgan on June, 30 2004 at 01:12 PM