Reports suggest that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided unanimously in support of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in a sex prejudice case. According to The Guardian, the class action lawsuit could have been the biggest gender prejudice class action lawsuit in U.S. history at 1.6 million claimants, if it was authorized to proceed. The only legal alternative for female employees of Wal-Mart is to pursue personal cases, should they desire. Article resource - Gender bias suit against Walmart dropped by Supreme Court by Newsytype.com.
Wal-Mart lawsuit 'too large for trial'
The sex discrimination class action filed almost 10 years back by Wal-Mart employee Betty Dukes and five female co-workers claimed that female Wal-Mart employees were routinely passed over for promotions and paid less than comparable or lesser-qualified male workers in the same positions. Over a decade, the class action grew to approximately 1.6 million claimants, a number that was simply too large, said SCOTUS.
Lower courts gave Dukes and business the go-ahead. This ended in an appeal by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to the highest court in the country. Estimates indicate that if the class action was allowed to proceed, it would have cost the company billions of dollars and set a tremendous precedent for potential sex prejudice cases for scores of large U.S. corporations. Microsoft and General Electric petitioned Supreme Court of the United States with concerns, as reported by the Guardian.
Not seeing a common policy in the company
SCOTUS decided unanimously that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. displayed no common policy of sexual discrimination against women. The plaintiffs presented clear evidence of promotion and pay disparities. Still, the company was not held responsible, only individual managers.
Justice Antonin Scalia said the claims were "too diverse" since there were "literally millions of employment decisions at once."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not feel quite the same as Scalia. She offered a slightly different opinion. She did agree the suit was too wide. She said that "Wal-Mart's delegation of discretion over pay and promotions is a policy uniform throughout all stores," in general.
Suit in the future not likely to win
Legal expert Stuart Slotnick of New York law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney points out that the SCOTUS ruling will severely limit the amount of money personal claimants can conceivably obtain from the company. The company may not feel any pressure to settle in the future. Smaller suits can, in theory, be whittled down by the company's legal defense much more very easily.
"Now each individual will have to find a lawyer to fight their case, and I would question whether most individuals will want to do that," said Slotnick.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., favored in Supreme Court of the United States ruling
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