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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Wal-mart Sex-Bias Discrimination Lawsuit

March 29, 2011

This week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear what has been called the largest class-action sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history, and one of the most important employment lawsuits in decades--brought by female employees against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for allegedly neglecting to pay women as much as men, and providing them with fewer opportunities for promotions.

As our attorneys discussed in a recent California employment lawyers blog, the decade-long discrimination lawsuit was originally filed in 2001 by Wal-Mart greeter, Betty Dukes, along with five other former and current Wal-Mart employees alleging sex-discrimination in the workplace based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The women reportedly filed for class certification in 2003, asking the judge to allow the case to go to trial on behalf of all women who had worked for the retail giant in the United States at any time from December of 1998--a group that is considered to include over 1.5 million former and current female Wal-mart employees.

In June of 2004, a U.S. District judge reportedly ruled that the gender discrimination lawsuit could proceed as a nationwide class-action, including women who worked at over 3,400 Wal-marts across the country. The trial was separated into two trials--one trial for the court to decide if Wal-mart was guilty of blatant sex discrimination, and another trial to decide remedies, such as back pay, damages, and injunctive relief that would require changes in company policy in regard to compensation and promotions.

In April of 2010, a San Francisco, California U.S. court of appeals upheld the judge's conclusion to handle the case as a single group rather than requiring individual lawsuit litigation. Wal-mart appealed to the Supreme Court in August of 2010, arguing that the claims involving former and current workers were too different in regard to issues and interests to process as a class-action lawsuit--urging the Supreme Court to reject the class-action status. The Supreme Court announced in December of last year, that it will decide if the class-action certification violated federal court rules for such lawsuits, employment laws, or the Constitution.

This week, lawyers from both sides will argue in front of this country's highest court to discuss whether the original group of women who filed the original lawsuit ten years ago can represent a massive nationwide class of former and current female employees, that is estimated to include millions of women.

Our Riverside employment attorneys have been following this lawsuit carefully and are interested in the developments that will come from the Supreme Court's decision. If the court sides with the plaintiffs, it could prove to be a significant victory for women who challenge sex discrimination in the workplace, as it could make it easier for large groups of workers to come together as a class to fight against huge companies. If the highest court sides with Wal-Mart, it could prove to be more difficult for employees as it will limit how many employees can come together in an effort to change corporate policies and extract monetary damages.

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

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:

United States Department of Labor

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC)

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

Related Blog Posts:

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