A woman who transferred her cashier job to the Walmart in Cartersville joined the class-action lawsuit against the retail giant, claiming she was prevented from entering management training by a series of male managers. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 20 in Dukes vs. Wal-Mart that a sex-discrimination case against Walmart may not proceed as a class action.
Anita Galentine, whose full declaration in support of class certification can be found attached to this article, said she was employed in May of 2001 with a Walmart in Ohio and despite 20 years of retail and hotel management experience, was told only cashier positions were available.
Later that year, she moved to Cartersville, transferring to the local Walmart as a sales associate. In less than a year, Galentine said she approached at least six male managers inquiring about and expressing interest in the management training program.
Prior to her termination for eating food for which she had not yet paid, Galentine was transferred to Inventory Control because one of those managers told her it was a requirement for management training. However, Galentine said other male employees went straight to the program without first working inventory.
Galentine said another male manager said he would be harder on her than anyone else. She was terminated, but says male employees regularly ate food for which they had not yet paid and were not disciplined.
By the male manager, the woman says she was subjected to a series of "tests" to determine her aptitude for management training. Galentine said she was repeatedly ordered to re-set modulars but not paid overtime for extra hours. The manager would say she had done so incorrectly and force her to take a day off without pay, she said.
Galentine left Walmart in December of 2001, and says during her tenure, she never received a performance evaluation or coaching of any kind. She added she never could find written information about the process of applying for management training.
The future of Galentine's case is unclear, but lower federal courts had allowed as many as 1.6 million women who have worked for Walmart at any time since Dec. 26, 1998, to band together as joint plaintiffs. Their case argued that Walmart created a system that arbitrarily gave men the advantage over women in decisions about raises and promotions.
This month, the Supreme Court did not rule on whether female employees faced discrimination at Walmart. Instead, it unanimously said the case should not have been certified as a class action under a particular federal rule, and it decided 5-4 that Walmart was simply too big and varied for the case ever to be a class action.
The bottom line is that women who have worked for Walmart may sue for sex discrimination but must do so as individuals, something the plaintiffs’ attorneys for the class action vow to support.
Still, commentators argue that the Supreme Court has broken the one class action into a series of up to 1.6 million David-vs.-Goliath fights, shifting the advantage to the retailer. Examples of that analysis include Elizabeth Wydra, Joanne Bamberger, and Naomi Cahn and Nancy Levit.
Walmart officials in Cartersville declined to comment on Galentine's claims.