The Wal-Mart Discrimination Case- Part 2
In the first post, I discussed the general idea of the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The lawsuit alludes to the fact that the female Wal-Mart workers earn 5 to 15 percent less than their male counterparts in the same jobs — differences that could not be proved to be based on performance evaluations or seniority.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether a suit filed against Wal-Mart, the largest employer in the nation, by 1.5 million-plus of its female employees claiming discrimination, qualifies as a class action lawsuit. If the court agrees with Wal-Mart that the case should not proceed as a class action of this size, Wal-Mart can still be sued for discrimination, but by a smaller group of female employees.
Wal-Mart denied the allegations of discrimination on the basis of sex. This is the biggest employment discrimination case in the United States to date. Billions of dollars are at stake.
Wal-Mart claims that any problems were isolated ones as the women’s claims are from all over the country — too different to be perceived as a single case. They are from 41 regions and 400 districts and involved 170 different job classifications and, according to Wal-Mart, the case is too big and too diverse, both in the types of plaintiffs and the issues they bring to the table.
Wal-Mart challenges the fact that it should have the chance to defend itself on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, they also claim that the present confusion in class-action law may harm the employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes and the civil justice system
The 9th Circuit majority said that: “A class action was better than jamming the federal courts with individual cases. Mere size does not make a case unmanageable.”
Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, a leading national employment and labor law firm, was quoted: “The key issue will be whether plaintiffs can bootstrap large punitive damages claims into Rule 23 (b)(2) class actions, where there is less need to show the more demanding predominance requirements of Rule 23 (b)(3)...The stakes are high, and a possible result is an end to the migration of the plaintiffs’ bar to using the Dukes paradigm under Rule 23 (b)(2) to litigate Title VII class actions — combining punitive damages, injunctive relief, and back pay in a Rule 23(b)(2) certified class.”Continued on the next page