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The Catholic Catechism sums up an ethical imperative that all Christians can agree with: "Access to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discrimination: men and women, healthy and disabled, natives and immigrants."

Among the labor-related legal actions against Wal-Mart is a class-action racial discrimination lawsuit, but the case most occupying Wal-Mart's legal teams accuses the retailer of systematic sex discrimination. Four of the six named plaintiffs are evangelical women.

The lead plaintiff, Betty Dukes, an ordained minister who until recently served in a Northern Baptist church, claims Wal-Mart denied her training and promotion opportunities that it offered to men. The 54-year-old Dukes told ct she decided to challenge Wal-Mart for the same reason she once led a campaign to persuade a gas station convenience store to put covers over pornographic magazines: As a gospel preacher, she feels compelled to stand up against injustice.

"When I felt unfairly treated, my religious belief allowed me to deal with the situation and not lose my perspective—not become belligerent," Dukes says. "Because of my religious upbringing and training, I disciplined myself to know that in a course of due time, you can work out many things to your advantage."

Dukes's role as an associate minister at St. Mark Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, California, was unpaid (she recently left over a leadership election dispute), and she worked as a cashier at Wal-Mart until carpal tunnel syndrome forced her into her current job as a greeter. Speaking by telephone on her lunch break, she said that in the 1990s she felt she had a right to realize her potential.

"I saw myself as trainable, but I saw myself not getting the training," ...

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