Many of Walmart’s customers and biggest supporters are women, yet Walmart has a disturbing track record of discrimination when it comes to women and mothers in the workplace.
- Walmart spent years defending itself against the biggest class action gender lawsuit in history, Dukes v. Walmart. The case was eventually dismissed on a technicality, but women continue to file suits in smaller groups.
- While women made up 56% of Walmart’s workforce in 2015, the majority of managers and corporate officers were men, meaning women are left in the lowest paying positions.
- The best study on women’s pay at the company found that in 2001, Walmart paid women $5,200 less a year, on average, than men.
- Irregular schedules and insufficient sick days make Walmart a difficult place for mothers to work.
Walmart sued for gender discrimination
Walmart spent years defending itself in the largest class action gender discrimination lawsuit in history, Dukes v. Walmart. The plaintiffs alleged Walmart discriminated against women in promotions, pay and job assignments. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in 2011 for technical reasons but without issuing a decision on the merits. Many of the plaintiffs are in the process of filing smaller suits, continuing to seek justice.
Women are underrepresented in management
Walmart fails to provide real opportunities for women. Female employees of Walmart are disproportionately represented in low-paying positions. The majority of Walmart managers and officials in the U.S. were men in 2015, even though women make up 56% of the company’s US workforce.
Women get paid less at Walmart
Walmart’s low wages are not good for any workers, but they especially hurt women. A study from 2003 found that female Walmart employees at all levels earned less than their male counterparts. Women at Walmart earned $5,200 less per year than men, on average. Women who worked in hourly positions earned $1,100 less than men in the same position. Women in salaried positions earned $14,500 less than men in the same position.
Following public pressure, Walmart raised its starting pay to $9.00/hour in 2015. Even at that rate, a worker at Walmart’s definition of full-time (34 hours per week) would earn less than the 2016 federal poverty line for a family of two.
In Walmart supplier factories around the world, many female workers face discriminatory treatment and toil in sweatshop conditions.
Family unfriendly scheduling
Walmart utilizes a computer-based scheduling system that prioritizes scheduling for peak shopping hours according to each individual store’s patterns. Working parents who need regular childcare have been forced to quit their jobs due to Walmart’s scheduling policies. Walmart’s insufficient sick days policy also makes it hard for working mothers to care for sick children.
In the retail industry, women are more likely than men to be working part-time when they actually want full-time hours. Women account for 58% of adults in retail involuntarily working part-time, even though women make up slightly less than half of the retail workforce overall.
Walmart wields its political power to influence legislation aimed at fairness
While Walmart was defending itself in court and undertaking a major PR effort to improve its image with women, it was also spending millions lobbying the federal government on issues including against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, against paycheck fairness and against paid sick leave, according to the Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act database).