LAKELAND, Fla. -- A judge in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., ruled last week that a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed against Publix Super Markets here could proceed as a class action suit.
Barry Goldstein, a principal with the firm representing the plaintiffs, said a trial date will likely be set for June or July 1997. In the meantime, the parties are scheduled to begin court-ordered mediation this June, he told SN.
Howard Jenkins, chairman and chief executive officer of Publix, in a statement denied that Publix tolerates discrimination and added that some of its current female employees may testify on Publix's behalf. Publix officials could not be reached for further comment.
The suit covers about 100,000 current and former female employees of the company. The legal firms representing the plaintiffs called it the largest case of its kind in terms of the numbers of employees represented.
The plaintiffs -- eight former and four current Publix employees -- claimed the company channeled women into lower-paying jobs and gave women fewer opportunities to advance, among other things. They are represented by Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller of Tampa; the law offices of Thomas A. Warren of Tallahassee, Fla., and Charles G. Burr, P.A., also of Tampa.
Other chains that have been the target of such suits, such as Lucky Stores, Albertson's, and Safeway, have agreed to multimillion-dollar settlements. The Saperstein firm was involved in all those cases.