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Lawsuit Charges Costco Biased Against Women

Costco Employment Discrimination Lawsuit May Proceed As Class Action

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- January 19, 2007 -- A federal judge will allow a job bias lawsuit against Costco to proceed as a class action on behalf of over 700 female employees. The workers allege that the retail giant discriminated against women who sought promotions to positions as assistant general managers and general managers.

Shirley Rae Ellis, Leah Horstman and Elaine Sasaki are the class plaintiffs. A Costco assistant general manager, Ms. Ellis said that she was unsuccessful in her many attempts to become a general manager. Ms. Horstman worked for Costco for over 23 years and was originally hired as a caller. She tried to become an assistant manager and was willing to relocate, but was not promoted. Ms. Sasaki began a twenty-year career with Costco as a cashier. She later became an administrative assistant and an assistant general manager, but was never promoted to general manager.

The lawsuit alleges that Costco does not post job openings or accept applications for managerial positions, relying instead on "subjective, arbitrary, and gender-based decision-making by a nearly all male managerial force." Costco has no written promotion criteria. The company promotes women less rapidly than it promotes "similarly-situated and less-qualified men," according to the lawsuit.

Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted class action status to the plaintiffs' lawsuit because they presented "strong evidence of a common culture at Costco which disadvantages women." She also found "sufficient evidence of gender disparities in the promotion of women to general managers and assistant general managers to raise a common issue of triable fact."

Judge Patel wrote that the class action will consist of female Costco employees who were denied promotions to manager or assistant manager since January 3, 2002. No trial date has been set.

Getting Information About Employment Discrimination

For more information about job bias, see Workplace Harassment and Job Discrimination and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission web site. If you believe you have been discriminated against in applying for work or in seeking a promotion, please feel free to contact us. We will evaluate your case free of charge and advise you of your legal options.

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