Judge grants truckers class action against Wal-Mart

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A federal court has granted class-action status to a suit against Wal-Mart that claims black applicants were discriminated against for trucking jobs.

Judge William Wilson granted the status May 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Two plaintiffs are named in the suit, and 35 affidavits were taken, said Chip Welch, representing one of three law firms bringing suit against the retailer. The plaintiffs represent a pattern of being discriminated against in their attempts to get hired as truckers, Welch said.

According to court documents, over a five-year period ending in 2005, Wal-Mart hired 4,135 over-the-road truck drivers. During that period, 4 percent to 6 percent of its drivers were black, and its new-hire workforce was more than 7 percent black, according to court documents. At that time, an American Trucking Associations study determined 15 percent of U.S. truckers were black, court documents said.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said the company was considering an appeal, which it had 10 days to do after the order was issued.

“We believe that the case will be resolved in Wal-Mart’s favor once the merits of the case are addressed,” Simley said. “It’s important to remember, the only question the district court decided concerned class-action status. This has nothing to do with the merits of the case or whether the allegations are true.”
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