Three plaintiffs, Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner and Shawn Gibbons, have filed a class action discrimination suit against Walmart. The store says their complaints are “not representative.”
Three Tennessee women and long-time employees of Walmart have filed a class action lawsuit against the discount retailer, claiming they were denied promotions because of their gender and paid less than their male counterparts.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nashville on Tuesday, targets employment practices in Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.
The complaint “seeks to end Walmart’s discriminatory practices regarding the pay and promotion of female employees,” said Nashville-based attorneys Barrett Johnston.
It also seeks unspecified punitive damages.
The three plaintiffs, Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner and Shawn Gibbons have spent between 11 and 26 years working for stores in three different towns in Tennessee.
They detail years of bias and unequal pay.
Millner says in the complaint that she was accidentally handed a paycheck of a fellow assistant manager, and “discovered he was earning thousands of dollars more per year that she was despite having considerably less experience,” the lawsuit claims.
Other female workers, including a Navy veteran, were told they could not be promoted to management because it was a “man’s job,” attorneys said. A manager at a Franklin, Tenn., store told a female worker that “women should be seen and not heard,” the lawsuit alleges.
A Walmart spokesman told the Daily News it has “strong policies against discrimination.”
“The claims of these women are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of women that work at Walmart,” said Randy Hargrove.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has been sued by female employees claiming the retailer has a culture of gender bias and unequal pay.
In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out a class action lawsuit again Walmart brought by a staggering 1.5 million female employees. It was the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history. In its findings, the court found the women’s jobs were too varied to sue as a class.
But the ruling did leave open the possibility of smaller class action suits, such as the one filed in Tennessee.
Phipps, 59, said she was passed over for promotions to management and learned that one of her male colleagues with less experience had received a 75-cent raise compared to her 25-cent bump.
“We seek justice for ourselves and all Walmart women workers in this region who have been denied equal pay and opportunities for promotion,” she said in a statement.
But Walmart believes the treatment the women allegedly encountered is “so different” that the latest litigation “is no more appropriate than the nationwide class action.”
Walmart is also fighting two other sex discrimination lawsuits — one in northern California and another in North Texas.