Several dozen demonstrators, including National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy, gathered outside the Wal-Mart store on Dobbin Road in Columbia on Labor Day to stage a protest against the retail giant, employer of more than 1.3 million workers in more than 3,000 stores nationwide.

"This is a company with a brain but no heart and no conscience," Gandy said. "Not only do they cut costs, they also cut health care, promotions and pay for women."

She was joined by labor leaders and others who spoke in support of workers' needs for a living wage, benefits and union representation.

Lawsuits representing thousands of current or former Wal-Mart employees and focusing on sex discrimination, as well as on alleged wage and overtime pay violations, have been filed around the country.

Wal-Mart officials have defended the company's hiring and compensation practices.

"I can tell you that Wal-Mart certainly doesn't tolerate discrimination of any kind," spokeswoman Christi Gallagher said this week. "Wal-Mart provides literally more opportunities for women than any other employer in the country."

Labor leaders, representatives of the National Organization for Women and others demonstrate outside the Wal-Mart store on Dobbin Road in Columbia.NOW President Kim Gandy, above, derides Wal-Mart's labor record. "This is a company with a brain but no heart and no conscience," she said. At left, Montgomery County Council Vice President Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) addresses the demonstrators Monday.