Friday, April 1, 2011

Women and Wal-Mart case goes to court

Women protests against Wal-Mart
Credit to: Workforce of Women

As protesters outside chanted, the judges inside the US Supreme Court were hearing evidence on what could turn into the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in American history. This group of women are suing their bosses at Wal-Mart, claiming they've been passed up for pay and promotion in favor of men. 

It's been a ten-year battle, but they are calling on their case to be heard as a class action, so the grievances of all women employees can be heard together. The women claim thousands of workers have been held back from opportunities based on their gender.

It's for the Supreme Court to decide in the coming weeks whether the lawsuit should cover all female retail staff who've worked in Wal-Mart stores in America since 1988.

Wal-Mart says any grievances should be heard on a case-by-case basis, rather than be lumped together as one, and deny any claims of sexism.

Many big businesses fear that if the Supreme Court does allow a class action lawsuit to go ahead, it could open the floodgates to many similar large-scale discrimination cases.

Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington

Vocabulary Words: Read the word/s, meaning and the sample sentence. Try making your own sentence afterwards.

1. chant (v.): sing and shout phrases repeatedly
  • The people chanted when the prince arrived
2. sex discrimination lawsuit (n.): legal cases where a person believes she (or he) has not been fairly treated because of her gender
  • They filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against their boss.
3. passed up (v.): rejected
  • He passed up my invitation for dinner, saying he was too busy.
4. in favor of (expression): in support of
  • Only a few people are in favor of war.
5. a class action (n.): a legal case where a small number of people can sue on behalf of a larger group
  • Dads launch class action against Mumsnet.
6. held back from (adj. or v.): prevented from getting (something)
  • Women are held back from political leadership.
7. cover (v.): here, include, deal with
  • The rules cover working conditions.
8. lumped together (v.): grouped together
  • Lump together all the applicants.
9. open the floodgates (v.): make it possible (for something to happen)
  • We should open the floodgates for people who would want to study.
10. grievance (n.): complaint which causes annoyance
  • Unresolved grievances can lead to bad feelings and adversely affect relationships and performance.

Comprehension Check: Read and answer the questions based on the article.
1. Why are the women protesting?
2. What do other businesses fear?

Agree or Disagree: Explain your answer.
1. Men and women are equal.
2. There are countries that still discriminate women.
3. I would want to know the gender of my child before he/she is born.
4. Men can suffer sex discrimination too.
5. Sex discrimination (sexism) can disappear.

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