By NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg
Last evening, I had the honor of attending a reception for the plaintiffs who are in town to hear the Supreme Court argument on Wal-Mart vs. Dukes. This is a case involving “Goliath” as the women who were visiting DC last night described it “and we are the Davids.” The plaintiffs in the Walmart case are arguing that the female employees of this mega-store were, and continue to be, denied advancement and training opportunities, paid less than men for the same or comparable work, steered to lower wage departments, subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against when they attempt to address sex discrimination. The Supreme Court will be deciding whether this case can move forward.
Wage gaps and barriers to upward mobility in the company are the crux of this lawsuit. In fact, as often happens when a company comes under the public spotlight, the lawsuit has already brought important changes to Wal-Mart’s women employees. Some have been hired in senior staff positions and there’ve been wide-scale pay structure adjustments.
You’ll find a picture of me with the named plaintiff, Betty Dukes, who has been engaged in this lawsuit since at least 2001. The Wal-Mart case gives the issue of “wage disparity” a woman’s face and in so doing, helps other women, particularly low-wage women earners, to see that positive results can come from their struggle to achieve equal rights in the workplace. This case is a critical bellwether for women in workplaces all over the nation. We wish the plaintiffs well today and will hope for the best possible outcome for these brave women.