On Monday, June 20th the United States Supreme Court 5 to 4 ruling overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions in Wal-Mart vs. Dukes. This case was a massive class-action gender discrimination case against retail giant and the nation’s largest employer, Wal-Mart. The case began over ten years ago in San Francisco when seven women filed suit and sought to represent 1.5 million current and former female employees claiming Wal-Mart’s discrimination, in part because they were passed over for promotion in favor of men. Further allegations included that Wal-Mart denied females proper pay because of their sex, which is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Class action lawsuits permit one or a handful of plaintiffs to sue on behalf of many others. The idea of a class action case is that when a group of people are similarly positioned, the case of a few will resolve the claims of all. A case may only proceed as a class action case if certain requirements are met, which ensures that the case is meaningful and fair to everyone involved. In employment discrimination cases, a class action case typically requires proof that the employer had a common policy of discrimination affecting all employees in question.
Wal-mart’s petition to the Supreme Court stated, “This nationwide class includes every woman employed for any period of time over the past decade, in any of Wal-Mart’s approximately 3,400 separately managed stores, 41 regions and 400 districts, and who held positions in any of approximately 53 departments and 170 different job classifications. The millions of class members collectively seek billions of dollars in monetary relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that tens of thousands of Wal-Mart managers inflicted monetary injury on each and every individual class member in the same manner by intentionally discriminating against them because of their sex, in violation of the company’s express anti-discrimination policy.”
The nine Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in deciding that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals applied erroneous legal principles in approving the class action. According to the Justices, the Plaintiff’s attorneys failed to identify a common corporate policy that proved that female employees were, in fact, underpaid. Justice Scalia said (for the majority) that the female workers “provided no convincing proof of a company-wide discrimination pay and promotions policy.”
While the case was dismissed, the plaintiff’s lead attorney was quoted saying, “This case is not over. Wal-Mart is not off the hook. There are thousands of claims of discrimination that remain to be filed.”
If you have questions or would like to find out more about employment law, please contact an experienced San Antonio wrongful termination attorney.
Jeff Davis is the Owner of the Davis law firm and a highly experienced San Antonio wrongful termination attorney. To find out more information about a San Antonio employment lawyer, please visit www.jeffdavislawfirm.com.