Retail

Walmart likely discriminated against female workers in stores, WSJ says

Key Points
  • A report from the Wall Street Journal finds Walmart has been discriminating against more than 150 female employees in its stores.
  • The report cites memos it viewed from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Customers look on as a Walmart cashier rings up their purchases at a Walmart store on August 15, 2019 in Richmond, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Walmart likely discriminated against dozens of female workers in its stores, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The report, published Tuesday, cited memos from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that said "there is reasonable cause to believe" that for 178 women, Walmart paid women less, denied them promotions, or both, because of their gender. It said the charges involve workers in over 30 states.

Walmart, however, says many of the claims are "vague" and that it has been looking to resolve the cases, which the EEOC has had since 2012.

"We have told the EEOC that we are willing to engage in the conciliatory process with all the cases," said Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman. "In the vast majority of them, the EEOC's reasonable cause findings are vague and non-specific even though we have asked the EEOC to provide detail on their findings."

"... We have urged the commission to move forward on them for years," Hargrove added. "The allegations from these plaintiffs are more than 15 years old and are not representative of the positive experiences millions of women have had working at Walmart. Walmart will continue to respect the confidential nature of the process with the EEOC and will not be commenting on the individual cases."

The EEOC declined CNBC's request for comment.

According to the Journal, the EEOC is asking Walmart and the women to find "a just resolution of this matter," or the group could file a lawsuit against Walmart.

The EEOC's push to make Walmart act comes as workers have been seeking damages from the biggest private employer in the U.S., with 1.5 million workers across the country, for almost two decades.

For example, the Journal noted that in 2001 a class-action lawsuit was launched by Walmart workers alleging the company paid 1.6 million female employees less than men. Since then, the Journal said more than 1,900 women have pursued cases against Walmart, filing charges with the EEOC alleging gender discrimination.

Walmart shares climbed less than 1% Tuesday morning, having risen more than 24% this year.

Read the full report from the Journal.

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