The finding reportedly concerns 178 women across 30 states
The finding reportedly concerns 178 women across 30 states AFP / JIM WATSON

US authorities believe global retail giant Walmart likely discriminated against some female employees in US stores, paying them less or denying them promotions, according to a media report on Tuesday.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, a federal agency charged with preventing workplace discrimination, found reasonable grounds to support the allegations, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited EEOC documents.

The finding, which concerns 178 women across 30 states, comes after many years of efforts by workers to seek compensation for alleged discrimination.

Since a class action lawsuit failed before the Supreme Court in 2011, nearly 2,000 women have lodged EEOC grievances alleging sex discrimination by the company, The Journal said.

The newspaper cited documents provided by a law firm representing the women, which is calling on Walmart to reach a just resolution with the workers.

Walmart said Tuesday the complaints were old and comparatively few, given that the company has employed millions of women since 2004. The company also called the EEOC findings vague.

"We have told the EEOC that we are willing to engage in the conciliatory process with all the cases," the company said in a statement.

"The allegations from these plaintiffs are more than 15 years old and are not representative of the positive experiences millions of women have had working at Walmart."

The cases have been before the EEOC since 2012 and the company said it has urged officials to speed up the process.

With more than 1.5 million workers, Walmart is America's largest private employer.