Wal-Mart Wins Texas Lawsuit Over Gender Discrimination

Categories: Legal Battles

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Nearly a year and a half since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed a class action lawsuit filed by some 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees who say they hit a corporate glass ceiling, the plaintiffs hit a brick wall in Texas.

Because the court ruled the women of Wal-Mart could not sue as a class, a number of regional complaints have been filed, one of them in Dallas federal court. The plaintiff, among others, is a woman named Stephanie Odle. It seemed she was on the fast track to Wal-Mart upper management. They bounced her around stores in California, Nevada, Dallas, Sherman and ultimately Lubbock. Every time she was up for a promotion, though, management found some excuse to deny her and give the gig to a man.

When she finally landed in Lubbock, she found out three men were taking a test that could result in a promotion to store manager or co-manager at the retailer's Sam's Club. She asked to take it, but was told only three were allowed. That same month, while she was training a new employee on a cash register where no actual store money would be lost, she reported a $13 discrepancy. Nobody acted concerned at the time, but before long she was placed on administrative leave. Then she got a pink slip.

She found out later on that a male manager from Phoenix had been dispatched to replace her at her store in Lubbock before the training discrepancy was even reported. Odle filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in 1999. The agency issued of notice of right to file suit against Wal-Mart. Her lawsuit was at the root of the class action that eventually wound its way to the Supreme Court.

It was a long road, and it ended in disappointment in Dallas this week. The suit was tossed not because it didn't have merit. It was tossed on procedural grounds, because the "statute of limitations" had run. They call it "piggy-backing." If the Supreme Court -- even a split one -- finds Odle and 1.5 million other female Wal-Mart employees don't constitute a class, the statute has run on all other class action lawsuits.

Or, at least, that's what Judge O'Connor says. The plaintiffs plan to appeal.

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TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Dang. And here I was in another blog praising O'Connor on his equanimity.


I really hope that it was a procedural hands-tied type thing here and these people get their voices heard in court on appeal.


If Wal-Mart thought she would have done a good job, (you know, make them money), they would have given her the job.  They saw something in her (or lack of some quality) that made them think otherwise.  Apparently 5 different stores in 3 different states came to the same conclusion, but this is somehow a conspiracy of male chauvinists?  This is about money, and money alone.  People in high levels of management don't give a shit about gender politics.  They want to be successful.  You make the company money, you survive.  You don't, see ya.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

One more reason why I avoid Wally World ... my choice based on my opinion ... you know it's that free market thing ...

mavdog topcommenter

you need a reality check.


you honestly believe there is no gender bias or discrimination in the workplace?




 @mavdog Sure it exists. I just don't think it exists in every store and state she worked in...


 @mavdog There wouldn't be any gender bias in this case if she wore tighter jeans and t-shirts instead of worrying her pretty little head about some silly 13 dollars.

scottindallas topcommenter

 @cheeseburger  @TheCredibleHulk  @mavdog this isn't just about not getting a management promotion, but also getting fired for dubious reasons.   That said, she might have grown bitter from feeling like she was being held back, and that too can affect performance. 

RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @mavdog It looks like you might be trying to explain the shortcomings of a glass ceiling to someone who might be standing on top of one.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@cheeseburger @mavdog : 1.5 million plaintiffs seems like an awful lot of "me too's", doncha' think?

mavdog topcommenter

no, your phrasing is inaccurate.


"5 different management teams" didn't determine that she "sucks", otherwise they wouldn't have maintained her employment.


the fact that they asked her to relocate to other stores, and that she continued to be a desired employee, testifies to the conclusion that she performed her job well.


she wasn't terminated by 5 different management teams, she was employed the whole time.


the issue rose when she sought to be one of the management team.


her claim is the classic "women need not apply". that culture could easily exist, walmart would not be unique in that regard.


 @TheCredibleHulk  @mavdog Yes, I have heard of it.  I have also worked in the real world long enough to know that if 5 different management teams determine a candidate sucks, that candidate probably sucks, corporate culture notwithstanding.  Just going by the facts that are presented, which everyone can agree isn't a lot, it is simply the most likely answer.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

 @cheeseburger  @mavdog Ever run across the term "corporate culture"?


Wal Mart has a long and storied history of treating employees poorly.

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