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Walmart settles gender discrimination lawsuit for $20 million

The biggest of all U.S. companies has more than a dozen of its Supercenter stores in Milwaukee and around the metro area. Each area Walmart effectively functions as a clothing store, hardware store, shoe store, sporting goods store and grocery store.

The giant retail chain recently reached an agreement to settle a sex-based hiring discrimination lawsuit for $20 million. As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to stop using a pre-employment physical ability test (PAT).

The company required job applicants to pass its PAT before they could be hired to fill orders at grocery distribution centers. (Walmart has a distribution center about 170 miles northwest of Milwaukee in Tomah, Wisconsin.)

The lawsuit alleged that Walmart's PAT disproportionately excluded women from grocery order filler jobs.

Gender discrimination is prohibited by the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says Title VII prohibits companies from administering tests "that cause a discriminatory effect or impact on persons of a particular sex" - even if that test is given to all job applicants.

The EEOC says employers that want to use the tests must show that the tests are "necessary for the safe and efficient performance of . . . specific jobs."

According to the EEOC, the settlement money from Walmart will go into a settlement fund that will "pay lost wages to women across the country who were denied grocery order filler" jobs because of the PAT.

Even the biggest and most powerful companies are subject to state and federal employment law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender, age, disability, race and more. Contact the law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates if you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination by a Milwaukee employer.

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