– October 2, 2014

3 women workers claim Wal-Mart discrimination

 Three women who worked for Wal-Mart more than 10 years are seeking class-action status for current and former female employees. Three women who worked for Wal-Mart more than 10 years are seeking class-action status for current and former female employees.(AP) — Three Tennessee women sued Wal-Mart Inc. on Tuesday claiming they lost pay and promotion opportunities because of their gender.

The Barrett Johnston law firm said the suit is the third of its kind against Wal-Mart in the country in the past year.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company has strong policies banning discrimination.

In 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out a class action lawsuit representing 1.6 million women who worked at Wal-Mart on the grounds that their allegations were too varied to show the company engaged in a specific nationwide pattern and practice of gender bias. Since then, litigation attorneys have been pursuing cases on a regional basis.

The latest represents three women who each worked for Wal-Mart for more than 10 years and seeks class-action status to cover current and former female employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

Cheryl Phipps of Covington and Shawn Gibbons of Cookeville claim they were denied management training and were paid less than men.

Bobbie Millner of Jackson claims that she inadvertently got the paycheck of a fellow assistant manager with less experience and found that he earned thousands of dollars more per year than she did. She said a Wal-Mart manager told her "men needed to earn more."

Hargrove cited the previous Supreme Court decision in responding to the Tennessee lawsuit.

"As we have said all along, these claims are unsuitable for class treatment because the individual situations are so different and because the claims of these three people are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of women who work at Wal-Mart."

In a statement, Phipps said, "Many of us have waited more than a decade to have our day in court to fight for the pay and advancement opportunities that we rightly deserved."

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gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 10/01/2014, 3:53 pm by Business Journal staff
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Written on 10/01/2014, 2:15 pm by Business Journal staff
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Written on 10/01/2014, 1:25 pm by Associated Press
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Written on 10/01/2014, 1:19 pm by Business Journal staff
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Written on 10/01/2014, 10:58 am by Business Journal staff
Several community colleges in the Central Valley are busy developing training courses as part of a new state program imparting skills to workers displaced by California’s ongoing drought.The program began with $1 million in federal disaster aid the state Legislature provided to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency in March to help rural communities hit hardest by the drought. Earlier this month, the agency announced an agreement with the Employment Training Panel and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office that will provide funding for credential programs in areas like irrigation efficiency, water treatment and warehouse operations. With funds good until June 30, 2016, $150,000 each will go to the College of the Sequoias, Fresno City College, Reedley College, Merced College, Modesto Junior College and West Hills College Coalinga for free job training courses. 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With the course starting up next spring, Reedley College’s Dean of Instruction David Clark said he’s aiming for 20 students to go through the semester ending with an industry-developed test to earn their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points certification. Another course starting up next fall at the college will have students working with curriculum of the Irrigation Association to become agriculture irrigation specialists advising farmers on how to make their watering systems more efficient. “One of the latest terms in education is industry credentials. It’s not a credential by the college,” said Clark. “We’ve had an irrigation class and plant soil class and nutrition but we’ve never grouped it together, and we’ve never used the industry associations’ material. This is really short term training so they can get a job and be employable.” Also in the preliminary stages, Fresno City College is looking at plans for a forklift driver and warehouse technician class offered in the spring at its Career and Technology Center at Jensen and Annadale avenues in southeast Fresno. While similar to the 12-week warehouse technician program already in place there, Fresno City College’s Dean of Workforce Development Natalie Culver-Dockins said there would likely be an English as a Second Language (ESL) component mixed in for a target population consisting largely of displaced farmworkers. “We’re looking at the ag industry because that’s who’s doing most of the laying off,” Culver-Dockins said. She mentioned that some of the 30 to 40 initial enrollees may also be fed in from any of the center’s five other automotive or industrial programs, including auto collision repair, engine repair, engine performance, maintenance technician and warehouse technician. Registration and specific curriculum will be decided after working with the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, the Department of Social Services and the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to hone its marketing efforts to companies and communities in the greatest need. “We have a little more flexibility,” Culver-Dockins said. “Since it’s grant funding we can tweak it and can add new curriculum components.” For those who pass the courses, she said, job placement assistance will also be available through the college’s Employment Resource Center and the Workforce Investment Board. College of the Sequoias in Visalia is working on a certified production technician class with a vocational ESL component. West Hills College Coalinga is preparing for a class training students to become agriculture irrigation specialists and another offering a qualified applicator license needed by pesticide technicians. Farther north, Merced College is readying to start up classes on water treatment operations and electrical industrial maintenance, while Modesto Junior College has in mind programs for logistics and warehouse technicians and irrigation technicians. Each college will offer two classes at 250 hours each at no cost to participants. Eligible students must be residents of the counties where the classes are offered. They must also declare how the drought or economic downturn has affected their work status, whether they be farm workers or employees in related industries. “We left it kind of open ended of who’s going to be displaced,” said Clark with Reedley College. “It could be a lot of the agribusinesses that supply products to agriculture, it could be seed companies and the list goes on and on.” Little data exists on the amount of jobs and economic output that has been lost due to California’s drought. However, a September forecast produced by the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton showed employment dropping by about 1 percent throughout the San Joaquin Valley this year due to the drought’s impact on agricultural production. With the exception of Sacramento, all metro areas in the San Joaquin Valley have job growth about a percentage point lower than in 2013, according to the forecast. Nonfarm employment in the Fresno metro area is predicted to grow 3.4 percent this year and 2.4 percent next year, still above the state average of 2.2 and 2.3 percent, respectively. On the bright side, Stockton, Modesto and Fresno should see their unemployment rates finally get back to single digits in 2016.

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