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Supreme Court to Debate Class Action Certification of Wal-Mart Sex-Discrimination Case

December 13, 2010

In a recent blog, our Carson, California labor and employment attorneys discussed an ongoing lawsuit involving a group of current and former female workers who are suing Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., for discrimination based on sex--accusing the giant retailer of underpaying the female employees, and neglecting to offer them the same opportunities for promotions as male employees.

According to Time Magazine, two federal courts have already ruled that the female workers' lawsuit can continue as a class action, which would represent around 500,000 to 1.5 million female employees, and would make this the largest employment class-action lawsuit in history. But in September, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling from earlier this year, claiming that the lower courts used the wrong standards for class action certification. Wal-Mart also claimed that the class of women in this lawsuit is too large and diverse to be considered as a single group. Last week the Supreme Court stated that it would review the class action decision.

The sex-discrimination lawsuit was reportedly filed by a group of six female workers in 2001, who accused Wal-Mart and Sam's Club of sex-discrimination, by compensating men more than women, and failing to offer female employees the opportunity for job promotions, even though they reportedly received higher performance reviews and had more seniority. The lawsuit also accuses executives of using sexist language, and claimed that 65% of the retailer's hourly workers were female, and only 33% of female employees held management positions.

The class action certification would include all female employees who have worked in any of Wal-Mart's domestic retail stores since 1998. Wal-Mart has argued that the plaintiff class in this sex-discrimination lawsuit is too large, and shouldn't be brought together under one class action. According to Time Magazine, when the Supreme Court hears the case arguments next year, it will not hear the discrimination claims, rather, whether the lower courts were correct in allowing the woman to move forward as a class action of current and former workers, and receive class action certification.

In Orange County, California, contact Howard Law, PC today.

The Supreme Court's Wal-Mart Bias Case: More Procedural Games?, Time Magazine, December 8, 2010

Wal-Mart Going to the High Court, Slate Magazine, December 6, 2010

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC: Laws Enforced by EEOC

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)