Reminiscent of the California class action lawsuit filed in 2001 by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees, a Connecticut woman filed a lawsuit Friday, June 9, seeking class certification in a similar gender discrimination lawsuit against Walgreens. Filed in Hartford’s U.S. District Court the lawsuit claims Walgreens, a pharmacy and retail store headquartered in Illinois, discriminated against female store manager employees by placing them in lower income, lower volume stores, while its male managers were placed in refurbished and new stores.
Pamela Jones, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, was the manager of a Walgreens in Enfield from 1986 to 2004. In 2004 she required a medical leave of absence after suffering a workplace injury “due to poor working conditions,” the lawsuit states. After she returned to work she was returned to her position as store manager in a different store in Springfield, Mass., where she is currently still employed. In 11 of the 14 years, Jones received “above standard” and “exceptional” reviews, until 2003 when Walgreen’s implemented a three-page standardized performance review document. She scored well in each of the sub-categories and her score should have amounted “Exceptional/Above-Standard” but it amounted to “Meets Expectations,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit concludes, “In couching its subjective rating system in an objective format, Walgreens effectively masks the subjective and discriminatory nature of performance-rating system which continues to present more favorable conditions of employment to male employees versus female employees.” As a result of this alleged practice, “Jones and the Class as a whole have suffered substantial economic damages as a result of the disparate treatment and effect of Walgreens discriminatory employment practices, including loss of pay, loss of bonus opportunities, loss of future earnings, and failure to timely or appropriately promote female employees.” Walgreens operates 5,134 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico, according to the lawsuit. The drugstore’s web site states it has 5,251 stores in 45 states and Puerto Rico and employed 179,000 individuals in 2005. Click here for the company’s web site. The lawsuit does not claim to know how many female employees may qualify for Class certification. “While the number of incumbent female employees seeking management positions is not known, it is reasonable to infer that they number in the thousands,” the lawsuit filed by attorney John M. Brown, states. The lawsuit which seeks hybrid certification suggests the case could be tried in stages. In stage one liability and punitive damages would be tried and in stage two individual relief such as back pay for employees would be tried. The case has been assigned to Judge Mark Kravitz in New Haven.