Yesterday I posted a snotty Facebook status update about Wal-Mart following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that denied women the right to proceed with a sex discrimination suit against the company.
A decade ago, a group of female employees sued Wal-Mart, claiming the company paid them lower wages and awarded them fewer promotions than men even when they had higher performance ratings and more seniority than their male counterparts. By a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the court said there were too many women in too many jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap into one lawsuit. The lawsuit could have involved up to 1.6 million women and Wal-Mart could have faced billions of dollars in damages.
Instead of receiving the type of concurring responses that I expected from my liberal Facebook friends, it was pointed out that the Supremes’ decision was based on a “narrow procedural point” which means, I assume, that my friends thought it was just.
I’m not an attorney but I don’t see how making it more difficult for women to come together as a group to claim discrimination by the world’s largest corporation is a good thing by any definition. (Isn’t this the same court that ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have the same rights as people?)
Another Facebook friend responded by asking, “What do you have against people who work at Wal-Mart?” My answer is: nothing. Wal-Mart employs one out of every 123 U.S. workers and nearly one out of every 20 retail employees and I feel sorry for each one of them. It’s the corporate monster, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, that rubs me the wrong way:
- Wal-Mart pays its employees next to nothing, forcing many to sign up for public assistance.
- Wal-Mart enjoys taxpayer subsidies although its annual revenue exceeds $420 billion.
- Wal-Mart violates environmental laws and promotes sprawl and farmland loss.
- Wal-Mart squashes Mom and Pop stores and alters communities.
- Wal-Mart actively fights employee unions and organizing efforts. The company's been mobilizing managers and supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize.
- Wal-Mart supports the Chinese economy. In fact, experts estimate that as many as 80 percent of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 global suppliers are based in China. The corporation itself estimates it imports $15 billion worth of Chinese goods every year and concedes that the figure could be higher; some estimates range as high as $30 billion.
I’m not surprised that a company headquartered in the good ol’ USA pays its employees an average of just $250/week and buys mostly from Chinese suppliers. I am surprised that the highest court in the land sided with this company over American women – and that anyone thinks this is okay.
P.S. For more information, watch “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” a documentary that “uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values.”
Sources: Huffington Post, moneyvsdebt.com, Crooks and Liars, USA Today, PBS.