Gender Discrimination Is a Business Pitfall That Essay

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Gender discrimination is a business pitfall that could result in hazardous, time-consuming, and expensive lawsuits. Today, businesses and managers need to be fully aware of the legal implications of perceived differences between how employees are treated. For this reason, specific safeguards can be implemented to prevent the hazards associated with gender discrimination lawsuits. In the event that a suit has already been filed, businesses can also enter into alternative settlement negotiations, which would avoid the public, and potentially scandalous, nature of a court settlement. One example of such a case is the class action suit brought by three women in Tennessee against Wal-Mart, citing continuous and consistent gender discrimination. Without recourse to alternative settlement choices and reform efforts, the danger for Wal-Mart is a tarnished reputation as unequal employer and significant losses in terms of time and money.

The lawsuit was brought in Nashville, Tennessee, with the charge that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. discriminated against female employees in its region of stores that center in Tennessee (Business Wire). Specifically, the complaint was filed as Phipps et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The purpose of the suit was to encourage the business to end its discriminatory practices, especially with regard to salaries and promotions. Interestingly, the case was the third regional case of its kind against the retailer, implying that the store's managers have been engaging in actions resulting in multiple similar lawsuits. Specifically, the suit in Tennessee was filed by Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner, and Shawn Gibbons. All three women have been employees at the company for 11 of more years. The plaintiffs claimed that women at the company have been subject to denial of equal pay and promotion opportunities. Many have waited for more than a decade for their complaints to reach the courtroom.

Actions that have led to the case include significantly lower salaries for women who hold salaried and hourly positions at the stores in the region than their male counterparts. On average, the women have proven to have more seniority and higher performance ratings than their higher earning male counterparts. Furthermore, the regional and district senior management panel have been receiving regular reports concerning the generally lower compensation for female employees and have chosen to ignore these. Cheryl Phipps, for example, have had long retail experience but has nonetheless denied entry into the Management Trainee Program at Wal-Mart. The district manager has falsely claimed that she was not good enough for the management position, while a less competent male coworker was entered into the program. The other plaintiffs have had similar experiences at their workplaces within the region.

There are basically two actions the company could have taken to prevent the lawsuit. First, and most importantly, the company should have been aware of and adhered to the federal laws preventing discrimination on any grounds. Indeed, the lawsuits brought against the company in the past should have alerted the company that its risk mitigating actions were not sufficiently in place. These laws are available to both the public and businesses within the public domain. There is therefore no reason why the company could not have accessed widely available websites such as the one created by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2009) in order to ensure that these laws were respected within the company. Not doing so is illegal and can have implications for the continued existence of the company or at least for its financial and social standing. Another action the company could have taken was to take seriously complaints regarding gender discrimination lodged against the company and its managers. Handling these concerns internally would have created not only a more equal workplace, but also a less public display of the company's lack of equal opportunities and by association its reputation.

In terms of ethics, it is not only illegal, it is also a discriminatory practice that is prohibited by the Constitution of the country. Indeed, as human beings, every citizen in the country has…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Business Wire (2012, Oct. 2). Barrett Johnson, LLC: Wal-Mart Women File Class Action Lawsuit in Tennessee Federal Court. Retrieved from: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121002006889/en/Barrett-Johnston-LLC-Wal-Mart-Women-File-Class

Legal Momentum: Advancing Women's Rights (2005). Legal Resource Kit: Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in Employment. Retrieved from: http://www.legalmomentum.org/assets/pdfs/esdsh.pdf

Stamato, L. (2000). Dispute Resolution and the Glass Ceiling: Ending Sexual Discrimination at the Top. Retrieved from: http://policy.rutgers.edu/cncr/research/0200drjarticle.php

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2009, Nov. 21). Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination. Retrieved from: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

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