Wal-Mart Asks Judge to Reject Texas Class-Action Bias Suit

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) asked a federal judge in Dallas to reject a proposed class-action lawsuit in which women allege that the world’s largest retailer discriminated against Texas female workers over pay and promotions.

The company said the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. “The time for asserting class allegations on these claims has passed,” it said yesterday in court papers.

The case also can’t be pursued as a class-action matter because there is little in common among the claims made by the plaintiffs, it said.

“The complaint does not allege any facts that would establish a class-wide policy of discrimination,” Wal-Mart said.

Some of the women who sued allege denial of promotion opportunities but not pay differences, the company said. Others allege pay discrimination but not promotion differences, it said.

“Some advanced quickly within Wal-Mart while others apparently never pursued managerial advancement,” it said.

The suit was filed in October on behalf of women working in Texas Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores from Dec. 26, 1998, until at least June 2004.

It came in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that barred treatment of gender-bias claims against Wal-Mart as a national class action.

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer

“They claim that this is exactly the same case as the one the Supreme Court looked at, and that’s completely wrong,” Hal K. Gillespie, an attorney for the women, said today of the company’s motion. “It’s evident this is very different.”

“We have a Supreme Court case that supports us, not them,” he said.

Certification as a class action would enlarge the number of plaintiffs from seven to 45,000, according to the women’s complaint. Otherwise they would have to sue individually.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in its motion the plaintiffs are attempting to take “a second bite at the certification apple” after the Supreme Court decision.

“Walmart has strong policies against discrimination; many years ago Walmart established these policies to help ensure women are paid and promoted fairly,” Greg Rossiter, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “The claims by the women bringing this case don’t match the positive experience that so many other women have had at Walmart.”

The case is Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 3:11-cv-02954, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Korosec in Dallas at tkorosec@sbcglobal.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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