Date: May 9, 2019
TIME published an in-depth article about the ongoing fight by current and former Walmart employees to hold the retail giant accountable for discrimination against women — and prominently featured the stories of two TELG clients who, along with six others, sued Walmart in early May 2019. Lissa Medeiros and Stephanie Chapman told of being paid less than men with less experience, and of being passed over for promotions. Their lawsuit is the latest in a line that stretches back to 2001; the broader dispute already has reached the U.S. Supreme Court once.
Years Later, Women Still Fight Walmart Over Discrimination
In October, Lissa Medeiros will mark her 20-year anniversary as a Walmart employee. She started out on the overnight shift in Fredericksburg, Va. Then, several years in, a man from outside the company was hired onto her team. Although it was against company rules to discuss pay — another policy that women believe held them back — “he was kind of a cocky guy,” she says, “bragging about what his pay rate was.” It was $2 an hour more than hers.
She asked the assistant managers about it, but according to a charge of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), they would “just shake their heads and change the subject.” She worried about pushing too much.
“When you have mouths to feed, when you have a roof over your head you have to pay for, you limit yourself on how much further you want to go,” she says.
Like [Claudia] Renati [a former Walmart employee], Medeiros recalls being repeatedly passed over for promotions and then having to train the men who got the jobs. “When there was an opportunity to make more money, I went for it,” she says. And yet she never made it into management, despite performing many of the duties. “I was good enough to show a male associate how to do the job, but I wasn’t good enough to get promoted in that position.”
This month, Medeiros filed a lawsuit in Virginia, claiming that the retailer discriminated against her and other women on the basis of their gender. One of her co-plaintiffs is Stephanie Chapman, who, according to the complaint, learned she was making $2,000 less than men who held similar positions. The lawsuit also states that when one of Chapman’s co-workers asked for an explanation of her pay discrepancy, she was told that the men “have families to support.”