News In Brief

Wal-Mart Stores was hit with a sex-discrimination suit that claims it systematically treats hundreds of thousands of female employees unfairly in training, pay, and promotions. Moreover, women who complain about such treatment are retaliated against, it claims. The suit, filed by six women in US district court in San Francisco, seeks compensation for lost wages for hundreds of thousands of females affected and an order to the merchandising chain to cease the alleged practices. The plaintiffs say that while women represent 72 percent of the company's US work force, men hold 90 percent of its store-manager positions. Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, employs more women than any other American company. A spokesman rejected the discrimination charge and predicted the company would win in court.

Up to $5 billion will be borrowed on Wall Street by the state of California to pay for electricity in the months ahead, its treasurer said. Phil Angelides called the move a short-term strategy "to take the pressure off" the general fund while the state sells at least $12.5 billion in power bonds, reportedly the largest such offering in US history. If the bonds aren't issued by Oct. 31, the state will be charged up to $10 million a month in interest penalties. Since January, California has paid $8 billion for power, wiping out its budget surplus. (Related story, page 3.)

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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