Effects of Wal-Mart on the U.S. Labor Industry – effects on Employment Practices

Wal-Mart also faces criticism with regard to employment practices that encourage discrimination. For instance, the entity has faced numerous complaints from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in recent years (Ford, 2011). In 2009, the entity also had to settle a discrimination case in which black applicants had claimed that they were discriminated against in employment to the position of truck drivers (Ford, 2011). Yet, the most significant claim that continues to challenge the perception of Wal-Mart as an equal opportunity employer relates to sexism. In one study by Ford, for instance, the failure of Wal-Mart to address sexism, attributed to quotes from a Washington Post columnist, is an inability of the entity to change patriarchal attitudes that are widespread among its managers (2011, p. 2). Such an attitude has contributed to the entity stores’ managers being managers whereas the variety of the clerical workforce being women (Ford, 2011). Accordingly, the entity has faced a lot of gender-based discrimination lawsuits for instance agreeing to pay $11.7 million to settle a case brought by EEOC against its distribution center in London Kentucky (Fold, 2011, p.2).

Probably what has been the most significant indictment of discrimination in Wal-Mart based on gender was a class action, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. filed in June 2001 in California. Although, the Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2011 that the plaintiffs did not have substantial similarities to constitute a class ultimately determined the case in favor of Wal-Mart and established new perspectives on acceptance of class actions, the case presented a critical evidence of Wal-Mart’s discriminatory practices. The plaintiff’s in the case argued that Wal-Mart discriminated against women with respect to pay and promotion pointing out that women only accounted for a third of the managerial workforce yet accounting for 75% of the hourly wage sales employees (Ford, 2011; U.S Supreme Court, 2011). From such a premise, the plaintiffs argued that Wal-Mart evidenced a case of discrimination against women since, without such discrimination, more women would have become managers following promotion.

Even more implicating was the statistical evidence presented for the plaintiffs during the cases hearing. For instance, a statistician regression analysis that compared region-by-region number of women promoted into managerial positions from those who were presently working with the entity in hourly wage jobs indicated possible discrimination of women in such promotions. According to the statistician, there existed “statistically significant disparities between men and women at Wal-Mart … [and] these disparities … can be explained only by gender discrimination (cited in Supreme Court, 2011, p. 16, inclusive of omitted quotation). Comparing workforce data from Wal-Mart and other competing retailers, an economist presenting evidence for the plaintiff had also established that Wal-Mart “promotes a lower percentage of women than its competitors” (cited in in Supreme Court, 2011, p. 16). Despite the ruling in favor of Wal-Mart by the Supreme Court, such statistics provided anecdotal evidence of a discriminatory environment to exist in Wal-Mart (Ford, 2011).

The effects of such discriminatory practices on American labor are varied. On one spectrum, Wal-Mart payment for discriminatory practices in some of the cases filed by the EEOC establishes the requirement for employers to provide policies that seek to address discrimination in their entities. On the other end, the Supreme Court’s ruling concerning class actions presents entities with a safeguard to protect against massive class suits that could lead to their demise. Nevertheless, entities need to establish ways that ensure diversity in their workforce to enhance their capability to compete effectively. One school of thought for instance holds that workforce diversity stimulates creativity since the workers diverse experiences create a recipe for effective idea generation (Govendo, 2005). Such diversity presents various perspectives in solving a challenge affecting an entity, thus resulting into innovative problem-solving approaches. Go to the conclusion here.

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