Costco's CEO, expressing Costco's view of the Ellis v. Costco
gender-discrimination lawsuit and related facts. Here is brief
background on this case.
One current and two former employees are suing Costco, on behalf
of a class, for gender discrimination in promotion to Assistant Manager
and Warehouse Manager positions in Costco's 375 warehouses in the
United States. They also allege that Costco discriminatorily failed to
rotate enough women into the position of Merchandise Manager. The
plaintiffs allege that Costco has no job posting or written application
procedure for these positions, and that this adversely impacts the
advancement of women. Costco disputes the plaintiffs' allegations. The
plaintiffs seek lost pay and benefits, damages, and an order that Costco
change its promotion practices. Plaintiffs are represented by The Impact
Fund in Berkeley, California.
On January 11, 2007, a judge ordered that the case can proceed as a
class action. There has been no determination on the merits. Unless the
class certification order is reversed on appeal, the case will proceed to
a jury trial. As noted by Jim Sinegal, Costco's policies, mirroring what
the law also provides, prohibit retaliation against anyone who chooses
to participate in the lawsuit.
r W p fo e were disappointed by Judge Patel’s decision to certify this case as a class action. Since we believe in standing u s s J dge our principles when we have done nothing wrong, we will continue to defend ourselves against these claim . A u ss c rtifica- Patel’s Order makes clear, it would be improper of the Court to delve into the merits of the claim at the cla e
tion stage. We remain optimistic that after a trial on the merits, we will prevail.
Issaquah, Washington, January 12, 2007
ized C r cogn ostco has a well-deserved reputation for fairness to our employees. For more than 20 years, we have been e r o- as s, p om an enlightened employer that looks out for the best interests of its employees when it comes to pay, benefits to seek tions, and fair and open treatment. We believe in the open door policy that encourages all of our employee c , ethnic- immediate redress for any grievance. These policies apply to all of our employees without regard to gender, ra e
ity or any other factor.
y. Wh c pan en it comes to promotions, the only relevant factor is merit demonstrated through years of service to the om W i e r ot on firmly believe in promoting the most qualified woman or man in every instance. Those who merit a p om is is a through their diligence, hard work, flexibility, and perseverance, have always done well in our company. Th nd essential two-way street for our employees and us. We are dependent for our success and growth on the growth an f r s to development of our people. They are our most important assets. It would be self-defeating and nonsensical o u ot a e do n llow for discrimination in a way that deprives any of our people of an opportunity for advancement, and w a d why we tolerate any such discrimination. That is why merit is the only measure we have ever used in promotions n i the have more than 250 female General Managers and Assistant General Managers running Costco warehouses n y U a .S. today. Our steadfast insistence on merit-based promotions from within the company has also resulted in m n women being appointed to warehouse management positions in other countries where we operate, including some
countries in Asia and Latin America where such diversity is not common nor legally required.
to tes- S t red ince this case was filed, literally hundreds of current and former female warehouse employees have volun ee r port that ify in our defense. Many of them have asked for the opportunity to tell their career stories to Costco. They e t hey have been treated fairly. It is obvious that there are more men than women in certain warehouse managem n ity to tell positions, but statistics cited out of context do not always tell the whole story. We look forward to the opportun r t or for- the whole story in the proper forum and at the right time. At the same time, we respect the rights of any cur en r r tal- m ve e r employee who disagrees with us, and therefore take this opportunity to reiterate that the company will ne
iate against anyone who participates in the legal process.
it W f el e normally do not comment on pending litigation. We are departing from that rule in this instance because we e
is important to reiterate our guiding principles to all of our stakeholders.
President and CEO