Costco faces class-action gender bias lawsuit from workers

September 26, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 11:15 a.m. Sept. 26, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco faces a gender bias lawsuit from workers, after a federal judge ruled the lawsuit can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco certified a class, or group, of plaintiffs, Tuesday. The group includes about 700 women challenging the company’s system for promotions to management posts. Costco has denied the plaintiffs’ claims.

In 2004, employees sued Costco after plaintiffs claimed the largest warehouse chain in the United States limited promotions to female employees by failing to post job openings.

Courts put the case on hold as a gender-discrimination case against Wal-Mart headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011, justice threw out the case, Dukes v. Wal-Mart, and said the lawsuit encompassed more than 1 million women — too many plaintiffs to qualify as a single class-action case.

Chen’s 86-page order granted plaintiffs’ attorneys the right to proceed in the case, Ellis v. Costco. No court date has yet been set in the case.

Lawyers for the Costco employees must follow standards set in the Wal-Mart lawsuit, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled last year.

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