U.S. backing plaintiffs in suit against Home Depot Former female workers allege bias by retailer

March 25, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- Former female employees of Home Depot Inc. won the support of U.S. equal-opportunity officials yesterday in their sex discrimination lawsuit against the home-improvement retailer.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it filed court papers yesterday to intervene in a federal sex-discrimination lawsuit against Home Depot in New Orleans. That suit, filed in 1995, is one of three pending against the Atlanta-based retailer, alleging it discriminated against women in hiring and promotions.

"This type of litigation, attacking the glass ceiling, is a priority for the commission under its national enforcement plan," said C. Gregory Stewart, general counsel for the commission, in a New York news conference held to announce the agency's proposed entry into the case.

Stewart said Home Depot attorneys intend to oppose the EEOC's proposed intervention.

Home Depot is the largest retailer targeted by the commission in a court action, said James Lee, the commission's regional attorney. If the intervention motion is successful, the commission will help attorneys for the four former Home Depot cashiers in Louisiana with research and other legal procedures.

The Louisiana lawsuit seeks class-action status to include sex-discrimination claims by all female Home Depot employees in the eastern United States from New Hampshire to Florida. Home Depot has 310 stores and 22,000 female employees in the eastern region, Lee said.

Earlier this month, Home Depot failed at the Supreme Court to block a sex-discrimination lawsuit pending in California. That lawsuit involved about 217,000 women whose claims carry a maximum legal liability of more than $65 billion. Home Depot is facing a third sex-discrimination suit by female employees in New Jersey.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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