Federal judge grants class-action status in Wal-Mart discrimination case

| 5/17/2007

A federal judge has granted class action status in a lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of discriminating against blacks who’ve applied for over-the-road trucking jobs.

The suit alleges that Wal-Mart uses screening committees to hire drivers, and that many of the committees have no black members at all, even though the company has a policy requiring that the committees be 50 percent diverse.

It’s estimated that about 15 percent of over-the-road truckers nationwide are black, but the plaintiffs’ attorney says only 4 percent to 6 percent of Wal-Mart drivers are black.

The class action includes all blacks who have been denied driving jobs with Wal-Mart since Sept. 22, 2001, plus any black drivers who wanted to apply, but were “deterred or thwarted,” because of the company’s hiring practices.

The plaintiffs’ attorney estimates the class at less than 10,000 people.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a Wal-Mart spokesman said the company is considering appealing the class action designation – and predicts the company will ultimately win the case.

In an unrelated federal case, an appeals court in San Francisco ruled in February that a discrimination case regarding female employees could move forward as a class action, with as many as 1.5 million women included.