Judge Grants Class-Action Status to Costco Discrimination Lawsuit

A judge has granted class-action certification status to a gender discrimination lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corporation. The lawsuit alleges that the company engaged in gender-based discriminatory practices.

The lawsuit, which has been filed by 3 female employees of Costco, says that the promotion system at the company is designed to affect women negatively. Women who seek promotions to the positions of general manager and assistant general manager find that they are not encouraged to apply for these positions, because these positions are not posted to them.

California employment lawyers believe that this lawsuit comes as a disappointment to Costco, which had been relying heavily on the fact that the Supreme Court threw out the Wal-Mart gender discrimination case in 2011. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that there were simply too many women involved in the Wal-Mart case to be included in a class action case. The Costco lawsuit was put on hold until the decision in the Wal-Mart case came.

Last year, a federal appeals court had ruled that the lawyers for the Costco workers had to follow the standard set in the Wal-Mart ruling. The lawyers then came back with a new proposal that would limit the number of employees in the class action to those who sought promotion to assistant general manager and general manager positions.

A US District judge in San Francisco has now decided to grant class-action certification to the Costco case. According to the ruling, the company seems to offer many explanations for the kind of gender disparity that the plaintiffs are accusing it of, but none of these explanations challenge the fact that these policies are in effect across the company, and have a negative effect on women who seek promotion.