For the first time in Walmart’s 50 year history, workers at multiple stores went on strike yesterday. Meanwhile, 11 Florida women filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing Walmart of discrimination in pay and promotions. Not a great day for the company that employs 1% of all working Americans.
More than 70 California employees of nine different stores walked off the job yesterday. The strike is riskier for Walmart workers than it is for most employees who go on strike: They’re not protected by a labor union, so they could be fired at any time. The striking workers say they have complained about working conditions and low pay, and have been responded to with threats, firings, and suspensions. Here’s the catch: The workers planned to return to work today. Walmart calls it a “publicity stunt.”
The Florida women’s lawsuit cannot be dismissed as easily. One former employee, Christina Going said that when she asked her boss how she could move toward a higher-paying position, he told her, “Single mothers like you don’t deserve to make as much. You should be in a two-income household.” She later learned than a man hired after her working in the same position in a different department earned $5 more an hour.
A similar suit was filed this week by women in Tennessee. Last year, a judge dismissed a 1.5 million-person class-action lawsuit accusing Walmart of gender discrimination. In September, some of those workers filed a new suit confining their complaint to California.