Betty Dukes was a cashier who used to work at Wal-Mart. For nine years Ms. Dukes worked hard and aspired to move up the ranks in the company. She thought that if she became loyal and dedicated to her job she will one day move to a higher position in the company. The time came that she felt that she was ready for the next challenge. She came up to her immediate supervisor and asked to be trained for the higher job (Daniels, 2004). Unfortunately she was denied being given the training needed to move up the order.This incident triggered what now is the biggest class action sex discrimination lawsuit in the United States. Widely known as the Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Inc, this lawsuit charges Wal-Mart of committing sex-discriminatory practice against their employees especially women. Upheld in June 2004 to be a class action lawsuit, this case covers over 1. 5 million current and former employees at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart appealed the district court’s decision but on February 2007, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the court’s class certification.
The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC helped in this case. The commission is the federal arm of the government with the sole agenda of ensuring that equal employment opportunity is given to every individual. The EEOC has the power of prosecuting work related discriminatory cases against companies or employers who have been accused of doing such a thing. They enforce the laws that protect employees from discriminatory practices. Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Inc. is basically a sex-discrimination case.
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This lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of choosing which employee will be given the chance to move up the corporate ladder. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is prohibited to give employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin (U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004). Any person who has the ability and capability of advancing in the company should be treated fairly. This sense of fairness is what Ms. Dukes did not felt while working at Wal-Mart. Another act which Wal-Mart violated is the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
Under this law, women and even men are protected from sex-based wage discrimination. Men and women who basically do the same job should also have the exact same amount of wage. Wal-Mart is being criticized for violation this act. The company clearly showed its bias towards its male employees by giving them higher wage against their female counterparts. Ask Ms. Stephanie Odle about this since she experienced this discrimination first hand. Ms. Odle accidentally found a W-2 form lying around the office which belongs to her male officemate, an assistant manager just like her.
They have basically the same job but the wage of the male assistant manager was significantly higher than her wage (Daniels, 2004). There are many other discriminatory practices that Wal-Mart exercises, but based on the two above examples, EEOC has every right to prosecute Wal-Mart. On my opinion a fair settlement on a case like this is give the victims what they are really due. Wal-Mart must pay each individual who have been victim of its bias towards its male and white workers. No ifs or buts for Wal-Mart because the money really belongs to their underpaid workers.
Since we are talking about multi billions of dollars, it is also fair to give Wal-Mart a feasible amount of time to pay. I think it is fine to let Wal-Mart pay in installments. Another option for Wal-Mart is to give their victims a few thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates every month which can be used at Wal-Mart and all of its other subsidiaries. Lastly I think Wal-Mart also owes all its victims an apology for all the wrongdoings and hurt that they have caused. Discrimination should not be happening in the first place but since we are not living in a perfect world, discrimination will always be there.
In an organization, the best way to battle discrimination is prevention. If an organization prevents it from happening then class action lawsuits like the one discussed above may never happen again. Organizations can fight discrimination by having a stronger policy against it. Companies should setup its own committee which will look for the welfare of their employees. This committee will also be responsible for hiring and promoting employees instead of giving this task to a single person which is the complete opposite at the scenario at Wal-Mart.
At Wal-Mart, managers have the sole power of hiring and promoting. With this privilege, a manager can be bias consciously or unconsciously on making decisions based on his or her preferences (Parloff, 2007). It’s hard to fight discrimination but it is not an unbeatable foe. Every person must just have an open mind, a mind that will look beyond color, race, sex or religion. Discrimination has no place in the school, community, work place or wherever. Discrimination should just cease to exist and let no one fell prey to it ever again.
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