EDISON - Wal-Mart is being sued by more than six female employees. The lawsuit is now before the U.S. Supreme Court and could have a tremendous effect on business from New Jersey to California if it gains class-action status.

The lawsuits were filed by six women from California who say Wal-Mart paid them less than men in similar jobs and overlooked them for promotions, an accusation Wal-Mart denies. Women's groups protested outside the Supreme Court today as justices heard the case against Wal-Mart.

A vice president for Wal-Mart said that "Wal-Mart has a very strong policy against discrimination and for diversity."

Lawyers for the employees want the Supreme Court to lump all gender-discrimination cases against Wal-Mart into one class-action suit, which would mean as many as 1.6 million plaintiffs.