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Plaintiffs suing Wal-Mart Inc. for alleged gender bias were to file a brief in federal court in San Francisco Monday seeking class-action status on behalf of the 1.5 million women who have worked at the discount retail giant since late 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported. If approved, the suit would be one of the largest of its kind against a US corporation. The 61-page brief, while being filed by Californians, also includes declarations from 29 other states, an attorney for the plaintiffs said. It reportedly outlines inequities in pay and promotions at Wal-Mart stores, the use of belittling language by senior executives, and complaints that male managers obliged female colleagues to attend business meetings at restaurants known for their scantily clad servers and to accompany them to strip clubs while on business trips. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman denied any pervasive bias at the company.

As expected, Siemens AG announced it will pay $1.2 billion for the industrial-turbines division of French engineering conglomerate Alstom. The unit builds small and medium-size gas and steam turbines, whereas Siemens has specialized in the heavy-duty variety. The deal had been hinted at for weeks as Alstom sought ways to pare down its $5.5 billion debt.

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Between 1,000 and 1,200 employees will lose their jobs at Getronics, a leading provider of information technology services, the company said. The layoffs are part of a broad range of restructuring moves that also includes closing 20 branch offices around the world and the $345 million selloff of the company's payroll-services division. Getronics is based in Amsterdam.