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Wal-Mart turns to high court for lawsuit

A Wal-Mart store sign in Miami

TEXT OF STORY

BOB MOON: Wal-Mart has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on a massive sex-discrimination lawsuit against the company. The world's largest retailer says the class-action case could include more than a million woman -- and should be stopped.

Marketplace's Amy Scott has more.


AMY SCOTT: This spring a federal appeals court ruled that the case could proceed as a class action, handled as one giant lawsuit. Wal-Mart has asked the Supreme Court to reverse that decision. The case began almost 10 years ago, when a group of women employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club sued the company for discrimination based on their sex. More than a million women have since joined the case.

The company argues that those complaints should be handled individually or in smaller groups. Retail consultant Bruce Flickinger questions the company's strategy. He says Wal-Mart should have settled the case long ago.

BRUCE FLICKINGER: The longer the case goes forward, the longer consumers are reminded that two-thirds of the people working at Wal-Mart are women, and only one-third of the people in management at Wal-Mart are women.

Those numbers come from plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who say women earn 5-15 percent less than men doing the same jobs. Wal-Mart disputes those figures.

If the case goes forward, analysts say it could cost the company more than a billion dollars in damages.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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