Labor & Employment

NY Times: Akin Gump Warned Wal-Mart of Risky Gender-Related Pay & Promotion Practices

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More than six years before a record-breaking gender-based employment discrimination suit was filed against Wal-Mart Stores in 2001, a law firm warned in a confidential report that the goliath retailer “would find it difficult to fashion a persuasive explanation for disproportionate employment patterns” in its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld said salaried men earned 19 percent more than women, for example, and urged that all job openings be posted, reports the New York Times. The newspaper says it got a copy of the 1995 report from someone uninvolved in the pending Dukes v. Wal-Mart suit who is concerned that the company hasn’t done enough to correct the issues it documents.

However, Wal-Mart contended yesterday that the report is “deeply flawed” and “stale.”

“This memo is 15 years old and has no bearing or relevance to the Dukes case or our strong employment practices and diversity programs,” David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, told the newspaper. “We are proud of our work to promote diversity at Wal-Mart and are continually recognized for our efforts.”

Knowledge that the Akin Gump report exists was news to lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Brad Seligman, who says he intends to subpoena it and seek to use it in evidence in his case. However, outside experts said it might well be found to be protected by attorney-client privilege from being produced in the case.

Related coverage: “Divided 9th Cir. Green Lights Massive Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Suit”

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