Barrett Johnston, LLC: Wal-Mart Women File Class Action Lawsuit in Tennessee Federal Court

Lawsuit seeks an end to gender discrimination at Wal-Mart throughout the region

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--()--Charging that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., discriminated against female employees in stores throughout its Region 43, which centers in Tennessee and also includes parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi, the Barrett Johnston law firm, on behalf of three Tennessee women, today filed a class action complaint in a federal court against the giant retailer.

The complaint Phipps, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. – filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, seeks an end to Wal-Mart’s discriminatory practices regarding the pay and promotion of female employees in stores throughout the region and punitive damages for the women in the class.

“We are proud to represent these courageous women who are standing up for thousands of their fellow workers to fight back against Wal-Mart’s discriminatory employment practices with respect to pay and promotions,” said plaintiffs’ counsel David Garrison, of Barrett Johnston. Scott Tift, also of Barrett Johnston, added, “Gender discrimination at the workplace is real, and its impact on hard-working women and their families can be financially devastating.”

Phipps v. Wal-Mart is the third regional discrimination case lodged against Wal-Mart since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2011 reversed a lower court ruling on the national class action against the retailer and issued new guidelines for class actions and Title VII Civil Rights Act employment discrimination cases. In October 2011, two complaints were filed in federal courts – Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in California, and Odle, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in Texas.

The named plaintiffs in the Region 43 case are Cheryl Phipps, of Covington, Tenn., employed by Wal-Mart for 11 years; Bobbi Millner, of Jackson, Tenn., employed by Wal-Mart for 26 years; and Shawn Gibbons, a Wal-Mart employee since 1993. The named plaintiffs seek to represent thousands of current and former women employees—with the exception of store managers and pharmacists—of Wal-Mart stores in Region 43. The class includes women who worked at Wal-Mart stores and were subject to pay and promotion discrimination at any time since Dec. 26, 1998.

In a statement, Phipps said: “We seek justice for ourselves and all Wal-Mart women workers in this region who have been denied equal pay and opportunities for promotion. 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.”

Evidence in the case shows that women who hold salaried and hourly positions in Region 43 stores have been paid far less than men in comparable positions, although on average the women have more seniority and higher performance ratings than men. This, despite the fact that regional and district senior management received regular reports about compensation showing that female employees on average were paid less than men. In addition, Region 43 Wal-Mart female workers were promoted far less frequently and had to wait longer for promotion than men. For example:

  • Plaintiff Cheryl Phipps, despite her lengthy retail experience and being regularly placed in charge of her store while the manager was away, was denied entry into the Wal-Mart Management Trainee Program after a district manager said she “was not good enough to be in management.” At the same time, a less experienced male coworker was accepted into the program.
  • When plaintiff Bobbi Millner was inadvertently given the paycheck of a fellow assistant manager, she discovered that he was earning thousands of dollars more per year than she was, despite having considerably less experience. On another occasion, a store manager told Millner that “men needed to earn more money because they raised families.”
  • Plaintiff Shawn Gibbons has been denied enrollment in the Wal-Mart Management Trainee Program numerous times since she began working for the retailer in 1993. Despite her six years of retail experience prior to joining Wal-Mart, and her years employed by the retailer, she was told that “she needed more experience in hourly management” before she could apply. In 2003, managers told her that to enter the program she would have to take a $2,000 pay cut, which would have placed her on par with male employees with less experience and fewer awards for good performance. She gave up applying for the management program in 2006.


Phipps, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., plaintiffs are represented by Barrett Johnston, LLC, Nashville, Tenn.; Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Washington, D.C.; and the Impact Fund, Berkeley, Calif.

Press Contact for copy of complaint and plaintiffs’ profiles: Pam Avery,


Barrett Johnston LLC
David Garrison, 615-244-2202

Release Summary

Female Wal-Mart employees in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi today filed a class action complaint in a federal court against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.


Barrett Johnston LLC
David Garrison, 615-244-2202