Specifically, the suit alleges that Wal-Mart's "strong, centralized structure fosters or facilitates gender stereotyping and discrimination." Women reportedly make up more than 70 percent of Wal-Mart's hourly work force but less than one third of its management.
The suit was filed in 2001 by Betty Dukes, who works as a store greet in Pittsburg, California, and five co-workers. "It has taken a very long time, and a tremendous amount of work, but it looks like we're finally going to get our day in court," Dukes told CNN.com. "That's all we've ever asked for."
Estimates suggest that as many as one million current and former employees may be eligible class members.
Wal-Mart is no stranger to employment class action lawsuits. In 2001 the retailer faced 13 discrimination-based lawsuits, including lawsuits brought by African-American truck drivers and workers with disabilities. The company settled the 13 lawsuits for $6 million.