Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Walmart's: Sexual Discrimination for Equal Pay and Promotions (2014)

Betty Dukes, the woman who filed a lawsuit against Walmart

Case Controversy
Beginning in 2001, Walmart has continued to face issues pertaining to unfair treatment of female employees. In 2003, Betty Dukes filed a lawsuit against Walmart alleging that female employees were denied promotions and pay increases because of their gender and that Walmart had a general policy of discrimination (Kabia, 3). In 2004, it became a class action lawsuit and was file to be heard in the Supreme Court on March 29, 2011. After hearing the case, it was revealed that Walmart in fact had a policy that allowed local managers the discretion over pay and promotion decisions. They also found that there were in fact disparities between male and female employees that showed more men held management jobs and were paid more. After hearing Bielby's testimony, the Court decided that these 1.5 million female employees did not provide enough evidence to show that this treatment was consistent among all female employees. Therefore the Court dismissed the case and threw future cases into individual lawsuits.
Upon the end of this huge debate, in 2012 a women named Cherly Phipps filed a lawsuit once again claiming that she and a few fellow female employees were denied promotions because of their gender and were paid less than the male employees. The claim also suggested that these issues have arisen due to the unchanged policies of letting local management make pay and promotion decisions. Much like the Dukes v. Walmart case, Phipps was denied certification of a class action suit and if any further action were to be taken they would have to proceed in individual lawsuits. Walmart has been lucky so far and the major problem here is that Walmart does not create a solution to the problem. Due to insufficient evidence Dukes and Phipps lost their cases, yet came very close to proving their claims. Had they had more convincing evidence they would have won the lawsuit. For Walmart, because they continue to win these lawsuits has created a gap between happy and unhappy employees which will in the long run continue to affect Walmart and their company if they do not make a change.

The stakeholders in these cases that have been affected the most include, Cheryl Phipps, Bobbi Millner, Shawn Gibbons, Betty Dukes and the other 1.5 million female employees who joined this class action against Walmart. This also includes all of the employees families whom they need to support so that they can live fulfilling lives. Due to the lack of equal employment opportunities these female employees continue to face low wages, poor treatment, promotion increases and struggle to provide for there families. Walmart needs to find a way to change policies that will allow for more equal employment so that these female employees will feel as though their treatment is just as equal among men employees.

Milton Friedman's theory of Individualism says, " it is the aim and the responsibility of businesses to maximize their profits within the law, spending money on resources, employees, and donations to causes is wrong because it is essentially stealing from the owner or owners of the company" ( Salazar, 17-18). In analyzing the Phipps and Dukes v. Walmart cases an Individualist would say that Walmart was ethical in the sense that they have continued to grow their profits despite the ongoing lawsuits. Due to insufficient evidence from the plaintiffs, an Individualist would also agree that Walmart was acting responsibly by providing jobs and paying their employees minimum wage by conforming to the laws and regulations.


Walmart logo
Utilitarianism involves maximizing the most amount of happiness for all people affected by a business action. It takes a stakeholders approach that says business actions should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run for all conscious being that are affected by the business action ( Salazar, 19). This means utilitarian's consider the costs and benefits of actions for everyone involved. In these cases a Utilitarian would say that the most affected party are the 1.5 million female employees including the names mentioned above. This also includes these employees families and because Walmart continues to leave its policies unchanged, people have begun to suffer and create large tax burdens on the public. Despite these continuous lawsuits, Walmart continues to stay the world's largest retailer and no one seems to care that Walmart employees are mistreated and underpaid leaving many current and past employees unhappy and suffering. Therefore a Utilitarian would agree that Walmart has continued to be unethical by not creating a more equal employment opportunity.

Kantianism was first developed by Immanuel Kant and focuses largely on rationality and the Good Will. A rule of Kantianism is to always act in ways that respect and honor individuals and their choices. Don't lie, cheat, manipulate or harm others to get your way. Rather, use informed and rational consent from all parties ( Salazar, 20). Another part of this theory of Categorical Imperative, which Kant used to help people reason. Within the Categorical Imperative is the Formula of Humanity which states, " It is wrong to use people as a mere means to get what you want "(Salazar, 22). Ultimately people should act in a way that is rational by having good intentions and being able to use reasoning when making decisions, in turn making those choices effective. In essence, a Kantian would say that Walmart did not comply with the Imperative because they continued to treat female employees with inequity between pay and promotions, knowing they have created huge tax burdens on the American public. Kant would also say Walmart has continued to make poor decisions by allowing these lawsuits to continue and by not changing their unfair policies.

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart
Virtue Theory
First Developed by Aristotle the Virtue theory says that people should, " Act so as to embody a variety of virtuous or good character traits and so as to avoid vicious or bad character traits" ( Salazar, 22). If you hold good character traits then you will live a happy and fulfilling life. This brings me to the four main virtues which include courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Walmart was not courageous in that their policies of giving local management discretion over pay and promotions has created inequality in the workplace and they continue to leave the issues unchanged. Honesty is not met by Walmart because they have not been practicing equal employment opportunities for all employees. Temperance and justice were also not met by Walmart, due to the continuation in unfair policies and practices, as well as their need for change regarding inequity in the workplace among men and women associates.

Justified Evaluation
I think Walmart should reevaluate how there policies are executed and come up with a plan to create more equality within the organization. To become an ethical company this first step would be a big turning point for Walmart and would allow employees to feel more valued as a part of the Walmart Corporation. Walmart management could then create training seminars to help management develop better communication skills to explain to employees the rules and regulations behind giving promotions and receiving pay increases. Next would be to ensure that these new changes have created a positive working environment for all of the affected parties in enabling them to perform with more efficiency and effectiveness having learned about these new changes. With these new implementations and monitoring systems, Walmart would be able to bring and end to the discrimination issues it faces. In the long run this new change would allow both the public and the world to see that Walmart is willing to change for both it's customers and employees in a way that satisfies everyone. By adding these new changes and communicating with the public, Walmart could continue to be the World's leading retailer in customer and employee satisfaction.

               Cavaliere, V. “Tennessee women file sex discrimination lawsuit against Walmart.” New York Daily News. 2 October 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/walmart-hit-new-discrimination-lawsuit-article-1.1173047
               Clemente, F. “Walmart’s Small Wage Increase Not Enough for Employees, Taxpayers.” The Huffington Post. The HuffingtonPost.com. 7 April 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-clemente/walmarts-small-wage-incre_b_7019234.html

               Frank, T. “A Brief History of Walmart.” Reclaim Democracy. 17 May 2006. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. http://reclaimdemocracy.org/brief-history-of-walmart/
               Harvey, S. “Case Study: Wal-Mart V. Dukes – Law360. “ Case Study: Wal-Mart V. Dukes – Law360. 21 June 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. http://www.law360.com/articles/253008/case-study-wal-mart-v-dukes
               Kabia, F. “Gender Discrimination.” Gender Discrimination. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. http://courses2.cit.cornell.edu/sociallaw/student_projects/GenderDiscrimination.html
               Salazar, H. The Business Ethics Case Manual: The Authoritative Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Improving the Ethics of Any Business. Print.
               Scalia, A. “Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes et al.” Supremecourt.gov. 20 June 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-277.pdf
               Stranch, J. “Phipps, et al. v Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.” Supremecourt.gov. 7 July 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/15a0140p-06.pdf

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