U.S. Supreme Court's Decision Sides with Wal-Mart in Sex Bias Discrimination Case
July 6, 2011
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling in what could have been the biggest class-action sex discrimination lawsuit in this country's history, brought by female Wal-Mart employees against the retail giant for allegedly engaging in gender discrimination.
In a recent Anaheim, California employment lawyers blog, our attorneys discussed the ten year old discrimination lawsuit, filed in 2001 by Wal-Mart employee Betty Dukes and five other current and former employees of Wal-Mart, who claimed discrimination based on gender, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The group of women have been fighting over this past decade for class action status to represent a class of over 1.5 million current and former employees across the country that have worked in over 3,400 stores since December 1998--which could have led to billions of dollars in damages.
In the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, agreeing that the discrimination lawsuit cannot continue as a potential class of 1.5 million women, who allegedly suffered gender discrimination in every level of employment, from management to entry-level workers.
This reverses the April 2010 decision made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California, that the lawsuit could be handled as a single group, instead of requiring individual lawsuit litigation.
In August of 2010, Wal-Mart appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that the claims involving former and current workers were vastly different and should not be processed as a class action discrimination lawsuit. The Supreme Court majority agreed last month with Wal-Mart's argument that it is unfair to have to defend the treatment of a giant class of female employees, regardless of the jobs they hold or where they work. According to Justice Antonin Scalia, in order to link together millions of employment decisions at once, there need to be common elements. The Supreme Court stated in the decision that the women had failed to prove that Wal-Mart had a nationwide policy that led to the diverse gender discrimination.
The decision allows the group of women who brought the case to pursue their claims individually, which leaves Wal-Mart to now face thousands of lawsuits and discrimination claims by female employees across the country. The ruling could make it much more difficult to initiate similar class-action discrimination lawsuits against large employers like Wal-Mart in the future.
In Westminster, Carson, Irvine and Escondido, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC today.
High Court sides with Wal-Mart in sex bias suit, CBS News, June 20, 2011
Wal-Mart women vow to table discrimination suits in US courts, Business Report, June 22, 2011
Wal-Mart to argue sex-bias case in Supreme Court, Chicago Tribune, March 22, 2011, Chicago Tribune, March 22, 2011
Timeline: Chronology of Wal-Mart discrimination case, Reuters, March 22, 2011
Women take case against Wal-Mart to highest court, USA Today, March 28, 2011
Wal-Mart sex-bias base could have wide impact, MSNBC, March 28, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Related Blog Posts:
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Wal-mart Sex-Bias Discrimination Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, March 29, 2011
Supreme Court to Debate Class Action Certification of Wal-Mart Sex-Discrimination Case, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2010
Wal-Mart Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Class-Action Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Ruling, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 6, 2010