Court Certifies Gender Bias Class Action Against Costco

By | September 26, 2012

A U.S. judge has certified a class action lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corp. over allegations of gender discrimination in the store’s promotion practices.

Three women plaintiffs say Costco’s promotion system has a disparate impact on women employees who seek advancement to general manager and assistant general manager. A different judge had allowed the case to proceed as a class action against the warehouse club operator in 2007.

However, last year a federal appeals court ordered that the decision be reconsidered, in light of a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling which had derailed a nationwide class action against Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

In his order on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco federal court said the Costco class claims differ from those in the Wal-Mart case in “several material ways.” For example, the size of the Costco class is a “mere fraction” of the proposed Wal-Mart case: approximately 700 people as opposed to 1.5 million, Chen wrote.

Representatives for Costco and the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Shirley “Rae” Ellis et al. vs. Costco Wholesale Corporation, No.04-3341.

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