M3A1: Ethics Paper: Equal Pay for Equal Work
Image of the words ‘ ACCOUNTABILITY’ and ‘ETHICS’ written on the board
There are four ethics papers in the course, each requiring you to review information on a particular ethical issue, seek additional information on the topic, and integrate the course material.
This paper is due at the end of Module 3 and focuses on the question of equal pay for equal work. This is a long-debated workplace issue for which statistics still demonstrate inequality for women.
In 2001, Betty Dukes from Pittsburg, California, filed a sex discrimination claim based on promotion and pay against her employer Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer. What started as complaints to her supervisors over lost promotion opportunities and perceived retaliatory measures against her has turned into what could have been the biggest class-action lawsuit in U.S. history. She filed her lawsuit on behalf of every female who is or has been employed at the company since 1998 (1.5 million women).
Moved forward by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the determination of whether this qualified as a class-action suit or not was recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court’s decision disqualified the class action status of the case and is a monumental victory for Wal-Mart as a class-action lawsuit would have cost the company billions of dollars. This decision impacted other corporations as well who were facing gender-based pay and other forms of discrimination suits.
The pivotal issue was whether a large employer like Wal-Mart that gives store managers almost complete discretion in evaluating employees for promotions and pay raises can be sued by groups of employees across those stores, in effect, saying that such discrimination was the result of a corporate-level policy. Many legal experts believed there was not enough evidence to suggest this, but the issue of pay discrimination is still a serious one that Wal-Mart needs to address.
In your paper on this issue, you are expected to cover the following:
Review and summarize this case, using credible internet sources.
Identify and discuss the ethical issues involved when a corporation as prominent and economically powerful as Wal-Mart is accused of discriminating against women in pay and promotion decisions.
Discuss what steps organizations can or should take to ensure pay equity among men and women.
The resulting paper should be a summary and analysis of the ethical issues involved. Organize your paper into the following sections:
Table of Contents
Introduction (1–2 paragraphs summarizing the task for this assignment)
Background (brief description of the Wal-Mart sex discrimination in pay case and identification of ethical issues involved)
Analysis (brief analysis of the ethical issues you’ve uncovered, the way they relate specifically to the course material with regard to gender-based pay discrimination, and the way companies can address these issues)
Conclusion (1–2 paragraph review of your findings)
Your work should be submitted in a Word document, 2–3 pages in length (excluding the title, the table of contents and the references pages), typed double-space in 10- or 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font. The page margins on the top, bottom, left side, and right side should be 1 inch each. Use APA guidelines for citing and reference sources.
See the Course Calendar for due dates.
Keep the following points in mind:
The case is well researched and major relevant ethical issues are highlighted.
The analysis integrates course material and is presented in a logical, organized manner.
Compose your work in a .doc or .docx file type using a word processor (such as Microsoft Word, etc.) and save it frequently to your computer. For those assignments that are not written essays and require uploading images or PowerPoint slides, please follow uploading guidelines provided by your instructor.
Check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. When you are ready to submit your work, click “Upload Submission.” Enter the submission title and then click on “Select a file to upload.” Browse your computer, and select your file. Click “Open” and verify the correct file name has appeared next to Submission File. Click on “Continue.” Confirm submission is correct and then click on “Accept Submission & Save.”
This course has Turnitin® fully integrated into the course dropbox. This means that you should only submit your assignments to the dropbox below. Please do not submit your assignment directly to Turnitin.com.
Once submitted, your assignment will be evaluated by Turnitin® automatically. You will be able to view an Originality Report within minutes of your first submission that will show how much of your work has been identified as similar to other sources such as websites, textbooks, or other student papers. Use your Originality Report as a learning tool to identify areas of your assignment that you may not have cited appropriately. You may resubmit your assignment through this dropbox as many times as you need to check to see if you have made improvements, until the due date of the assignment. However, once you have made your first submission, you will need to wait 24 hours after each subsequent submission to receive a new Originality Report. Plan accordingly as you draft your assignment. Once the due date has passed, your assignment submission will be considered final.
This assignment will be graded using the SBT Ethics Discussion Grading Rubric located on the Course Rubrics page within the Start Here section of the course. Please review the rubric prior to beginning your work so that you ensure your submission meets the criteria in place for this assignment. Collectively, these assignments are worth 10% of your final course grade.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Table of Contents
Betty Dukes v. Walmart. 3
Ethical Issues: Gender-based Discrimination in Walmart 4
Gender discrimination generally refers to one being treated less well simply because of their gender. Examples of gender-based discrimination include a person being treated badly for being a woman and an individual being subjected to stereotypes regarding their gender. For instance, a woman may be discriminated against for having familial responsibilities, where the employer assumes that her performance at work will be affected by that responsibility. Gender discrimination in the workplace involves the different and unfair treatment of prospective or existing employees due to their sexual orientation, their gender, or their gender identity (Cohn, 2000). The unfair treatment may be in the context of compensation, hiring, firing, job classifications, or promotion and training. Gender-based discrimination is prohibited under local, state, and federal laws. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is an example of an organization that has faced gender-based discrimination issues, ending in a lawsuit that lasted for several years (Toobin, 2017). In this paper, the ethical issues related to gender discrimination in the Walmart lawsuit are discussed.
In 2001, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Walmart by one of its workers, Betty Dukes. The worker led the lawsuit accusing her employer of discriminating against female workers. This lawsuit rose to become “a landmark case, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court” (Corkery, 2017). The worker, who was a greeter for the company, was portrayed as a good example of a low-paid female retail employee. She filed the case on behalf of over 1.5 million female employees of the company, accusing the company of “paying female workers less than their male counterparts and passing over female workers for promotions” (Corkery, 2017). The case was, however, dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2011. The court’s decision was seen as having made it difficult for employees to bring employment class-action cases against large companies on employee discrimination based on gender (Toobin, 2017). Even though the lawsuit was thrown out, it helped draw huge attention on the working conditions and compensation of employees in large companies.
When Dukes filled the lawsuit against Walmart in 2001, she had been working at the retail company for six years (Toobin, 2017). Despite being at the firm for many years, she had never had the opportunity for a promotion, claiming that her male colleagues had been provided with such opportunities. At the time when the lawsuit began, the company’s sales workforce was made up of approximately 72 percent women. However, only about a third of the management was made up of female employees (Toobin, 2017). Dukes was suing on behalf of others and herself. The company was accused of several gender discrimination behaviors, unethical and unlawful dealings, including paying female workers less than their male colleagues and not considering women for promotions. In order to ensure that such problems do not occur in an organization, the management needs to cultivate a non-discriminatory organizational culture. It is also important to monitor the development and performance of female employees, to ensure that they are not left out during promotion and training opportunities.
The case of Betty Dukes v. Walmart (Toobin, 2017) brought to light the various ethical problems that face organizations today. By building an organizational culture that ensures fairness and that does not tolerate gender discrimination, an organization will be able to ensure that cases of gender-based discrimination or biases do not arise (Cohn, 2000). It is important that all managers and employees are aware that the organization does condone discrimination, and that all employees are treated equally. Employees, regardless of their gender, race, or background, should be provided equal career development opportunities and fair compensation.
Cohn, S. (2000). Race and gender discrimination at work. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Corkery, M. (2017, July 19). Betty Dukes, Greeter Whose Walmart Lawsuit Went to Supreme Court, Dies at 67. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/business/betty-dukes-dead-walmart-worker-led-landmark-class-action-sex-bias-case.html
Toobin, J. (2017, June 20). Betty Dukes v. Walmart. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/betty-dukes-v-walmart
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