Walmart Inc. general counsel Karen Roberts can remember the company’s legal department around 1998. It had about 28 lawyers, and only a few were women. She recalls there was one female vice president and general counsel of a Walmart division.

Walmart says exact legal department statistics are not available for those years. But it wasn’t hard to see why women employees filed a landmark class action lawsuit against the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company in 2001, on behalf of 1.6 million current or former female employees who alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies. Ten years later the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the suit on technical grounds without ruling on the merits.

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