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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
(( NOTE: If you're still arriving at my world via the 04_01 - or earlier - monthly archive URL, the latest stuff is in 05_01 archive or main page URL. So go there. Now.)


Dem broads have their panties in a twist... again.

This time, the righteous anger is directed at the Wal-Mart retail chain.

It's always something!

To wit (quoting from CBS News, "Angry Workers Up The Ante At Wal-Mart", 4/29/03):

"Wal-Mart is on the receiving end of what could become the largest class action employment lawsuit in U.S. history...

...The documents, detailing more than 100 complaints by women against the company, are part of a nearly 2-year-old lawsuit against the Bentonville, Ark., retail chain, the nation's largest private employer.

A hearing is set for July 25 in which attorneys for the women will ask a federal judge to elevate the seven-plaintiff suit into a nationwide, class action sex discrimination case."

There are basically two complaints.

The more sensational, and less serious, of the two - which, of course, tops the news article(s) due to its "shock" value - is that male managers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have "required" their female counterparts to attend meetings at strip clubs and - ahem! - Hooter's restaurants.

Now that the offended wimmen have said "no more", by having their lawyers file documents in federal court, I have to ask -- whatever happened to just plain "no"? Maybe that could've avoided this so-called "more".

Too often in this world, people will simply go along with something - even if they know it's wrong - so as not to rock the boat. Then, at some point, when they've finally had enough, they sue. Welcome to the New LitigiousWorld Order.

This is the same reason why Hitler would've eventually been sued by the Jews. If he hadn't, you know, killed them all before a class action lawsuit could be filed.

I'd be much more sympathetic if a woman (or group of women) at Wal-Mart had refused to attend such a meeting, due to its offensive locale, and had been fired. Then filed a wrongful termination/sexual discrimination suit. Sometimes it's better to stand up for yourself, consequences be damned, than to just "go along" with the stupidity. Maybe that attitude is a "guy thing", or maybe I'm just funny in the head.

Of course, the Cynic in me has to ask: Did they go along with it out of fear, or because it began to dawn on them that, perhaps, there WAS a Light at the End of the Big Settlement Tunnel?

I can understand the part about strip clubs. That is a little overboard and, quite frankly, just plain wrong.

But Hooter's restaurants? What next?

Will obese Wal-Mart employees follow suit, and sue management for "requiring" them to eat unhealthy, fattening food during a meeting held at a crap-restaurant?

And I can't help but wonder what would've happened if the roles had been reversed, and a female manager had "required" her male underlings to attend a staff meeting at Chippendales. Probably nothing, because men don't talk about being sexually "violated". It just isn't manly to talk about such things. Unless, of course, you're a man who happens to reside in a maximum-security prison. Then it's pretty much the topic de jour. But that's another column entirely.

If the "Hooter's" portion of the suit isn't tossed out and the case is won with that intact, I wonder where it will end.

McDonald's Scenario:

Male Cashier: "Would you like to try a 'Hot & Spicy' McChicken sandwich today? Would you like to Super-Size those fries?"

Female customer: "What the hell did you mean by 'hot & spicy'?" (Later in court) "When he said that, I felt so cheap! And when he said 'super-size', he was all but whipping out his penis just by his words alone!"

Diner scenario:

Waiter, after pouring coffee, says: "Would you like a little cream in that?"

Woman (in court later): "I know what he really meant by so-called 'cream in that'. I felt emotionally raped by his insensitive question!"

And so it goes.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm fair-squared against harassment. But I'm equally against stupidity and frivolity.

Which is why, if proven true in court, I think the second - more substantial - part of this class action suit has merit.

Again, to quote CBS News:

"The suit charges that Wal-Mart, which also operates Sam's Club, systematically discriminates against female employees across the nation by denying them promotions and equal pay.

The suit, filed in San Francisco in June 2001, alleges there are nearly double the number of women in management at competing retail stores and that male Wal-Mart workers get higher pay than women for the same duties. It also says the retailing giant passes over women for promotions and training..."

Sadly, with the way the world works, this is probably the rule rather than the exception in corporate and retail business circles. So, I hope, through this suit, the plaintiffs strike a blow for broads everywhere.

*Begin Heavy Sarcasm Alert*

Things used to be much simpler. Then we men stopped demanding that women be ever pregnant. We allowed them to wear shoes. We showed them that, yes, there was a world outside of the kitchen.

And just look at how they've repaid their benevolent masters!

*End Heavy Sarcasm Alert*

Obviously, Wal-Mart is downplaying this whole "unpleasant episode."

According to spokesperson Mona Williams, "The fact that a man might force female associates to bars and places like that to have meetings, it's very offensive to me and everybody else at Wal-Mart. That's not who we are. We might have some knucklehead out there that thinks that's OK to do. But that's not who we are or how we think."

She added that the briefs illustrated "isolated complaints" against the company.

The fact that the designated spokesperson is a WOMAN proves one of two things: Either that women can move up the Wal-Mart ladder, thus the suit has little merit, or... more likely... that the corporate lawyers are pretty darn slick, and have taken the public relations offensive by having a woman speak, thus both blunting the impact of such a suit through "maximum spin control" and raising the question of its merits.

One final note: The CBS article noted that Wal-Mart Stores Inc is "the nation's largest private employer", which, to some extent, goes a long way toward answering the question:

"What's wrong with America today?"

posted by Pete 11:28 AM
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