A version of this story was originally published by The Recorder, an American Lawyer affiliate.
Plaintiffs lawyers led by Joseph Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Brad Seligman of the Impact Fund in Berkeley filed suits against Wal-Mart in two more federal district courts this week, further advancing their long-standing claims that the retailer discriminates against women workers throughout the country.
The plaintiffs in the latest suits, filed in Tennessee and Florida, allege that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. engaged in a pattern of deliberate discrimination that denied female workers opportunities for promotions or pay increases because of their gender.
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., plaintiffs lawyer Theodore Leopold said his team has found new evidence “that managers in the southeast region considered women less worthy than men to get equal pay or promotions.” Leopold also said the new suit’s complaint is right in line with the guidance the U.S. Supreme Court handed down when it rejected a national class action brought by the same lawyers on behalf of more than a million Wal-Mart workers. Leopold’s Florida case proposes a class of “several thousand” employees.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said Thursday that the case is “nothing more than recycled claims driven by the same plaintiffs lawyers whose arguments were considered and rejected by the Supreme Court” and that the allegations aren’t suitable for class treatment because each worker’s individual situation is “so different.”
In a related case last month, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco denied Wal-Mart’s motion to dismiss proposed class claims of mainly California Wal-Mart workers–including the original named plaintiff in the nationwide case, Betty Dukes.
Leopold said he would’ve filed suit in Florida anyway, even if Seligman and co-counsel hadn’t defeated Wal-Mart’s motion in the California case, but will use Breyer’s ruling as persuasive authority in his case.
According to a press release announcing the filing of the Tennessee suit, managers in Tennessee stores made comments to women workers that “women should be seen and not heard,” and that women should “stay home and cook quality meals for their husbands.”