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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Walmart Back in EEOC’s Crosshairs, This Time for Sex Discrimination

Shot of a young woman working on laptop while caring for her adorable baby girl at home.

It wasn’t so long ago that we reported on a lawsuit charging the world’s employer with disability discrimination of an employee at one of its stores in Arizona (Walmart Sued for Disability Discrimination…Again, posted June 30, 2023). We noted then that Walmart is a frequent target of charges from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal government agency in charge of enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination workplace laws.

Well, the retail giant is back at it again. This time, the superstore will be required to pay $60,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging it unlawfully discriminated against employees on the basis of sex, specifically by engaging in unlawful sex stereotyping of a woman with young children.

Company Refuses to Promote Mother With Young Children at Home

This latest federal employment discrimination lawsuit against Walmart grew out of a company decision not to promote an employee to department manager at its Ottumwa, Iowa location. When asked why the store decided to pass her over for the promotion, a company official pointed out that with young children at home, the employee was likely not interested in pursuing a career at Walmart over the long term. Walmart did hire a woman to fill the management position, but she did not have any children.

According to the EEOC, this action by Walmart was a prime example of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency notes that discriminating against an employee based on sex-based stereotypes, such as the stereotype that mothers with children at home are not committed to their careers and can’t be counted on to do their jobs fully, is a form of sex discrimination outlawed under Title VII.

After filing charges against Walmart, the EEOC first attempted to reach a settlement without litigation through an agency process known as conciliation. When conciliation failed to produce results, the government filed suit in federal court. Walmart first tried to get the case dismissed by filing a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the government had not put forward any material issues of fact that would require a trial. In essence, Walmart was claiming it was entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law.

The district court disagreed with the retailer, finding that indeed the plaintiff in this case did produce evidence that Walmart based its promotion decisions on sex stereotypes. This ruling did not determine that Walmart engaged in sex discrimination but that a question of fact did exist that would be up to a jury to answer after hearing the case in a trial. The court did, however, support the notion that sex stereotyping is a form of unlawful sex discrimination, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress regarding the “pervasive presumption that women are mothers first, and workers second.” As the court noted, this presumption “is among the sex stereotypes Congress has explicitly identified as impermissible.”

Faced with a trial date set for January 8 in Des Moines, Walmart quickly pivoted and agreed to settle the case rather than face a jury of the woman’s peers. As part of the settlement, Walmart will pay the woman, who is no longer working for the retailer, $60,000. In addition, the company is mandated to provide training on federal sex discrimination laws to its management-level employees. Walmart will also be required to report any future promotion-related sex discrimination complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the consent decree, which is likely to last several years.

Marion County Sex Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Florida, our Marion County employment discrimination lawyers have been litigating sex discrimination cases in Florida for over twenty years. If you have been the victim of discrimination at work based on sex, gender, or other protected characteristics, or if you have questions about your rights as the victim of employment discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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