Carolyn Sapp, the first Miss Hawaii to win the Miss America title in 1992, is a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Versus Women (www.WalmartVersusWomen.com), which promotes public awareness of the retail giant's nationwide pattern of discrimination against female employees. Sapp said the ruling by United States District Court Judge Martin Jenkins affirms that "the evidence points to widespread corporate practices that deny the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of women every day."
The lawsuit was launched in 2001 by several Wal-Mart employees who charged the company with discrimination in promotions, compensation and training. The ruling expands the number of women to an estimated 1.6 million women who worked for Wal-Mart beginning in 1998.
Sapp noted that although women constitute more than 70 percent of Wal-Mart's sales work force, fewer than a third of the company's store managers are female. This percentage is lower than the retail industry's standard as it existed in 1975, she said.
Outside sources have tracked distinguishable pay gaps between male and female employees. The differences increase up the corporate ladder for the same positions, beginning with full-time hourly women employees making 6.2 percent less than their male counterparts and female senior vice presidents making 50 percent less than men in the same position.