US Supreme Court rules in favour of Wal-Mart - reverses certification of class action in gender discrimination lawsuit

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Article
26 June 2011

Walmart should fear its gender bias culture [USA]

Author: Philip Delves Broughton, Financial Times

Last week’s decision by the US Supreme Court to dismiss the largest sex discrimination suit in the country’s history, filed on behalf of 1.5m female Walmart employees…spared Walmart having to pay out billions of dollars in compensation…The court ruled Walmart’s female employees did not constitute a single class for the purposes of a discrimination suit…Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the judgment on behalf of the four dissenting judges, said that while there were questions about the validity of the suit as a class action, there was uncontested evidence that gender bias still “suffused Walmart’s corporate culture”…Walmart’s real problem is that women fill 70 per cent of the hourly jobs in its shops and yet make up only 33 per cent of management. Women are paid less than men in every region and the salary gap between men and women widens over time…Walmart lobbied for years to create a flexible, low-cost labour environment, without the inconvenience of unions…But when a company is allowed to rid itself of unions to grow more aggressively, it is expected to repay that trust by treating workers fairly.

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Article
20 June 2011

Supreme Court sides with Wal-Mart in sex discrimination lawsuit [USA]

Author: Bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling that may mean new limits on class-action suits, rejected an effort to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for discrimination on behalf of potentially a million female workers. The justices said the lawyers pressing the case failed to point to a common corporate policy that led to gender discrimination against workers at thousands of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores across the country...Units of Cigna Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bayer AG, Toshiba Corp., Publicis Group SA, Deere & Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. all face gender discrimination complaints that seek class action status. More than 20 companies supported Wal- Mart at the Supreme Court, including Intel Corp., Altria Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co.

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Article
20 June 2011

[PDF] WAL-MART STORES, INC. v. DUKES ET AL. - Opinion of the Court

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

The certification of the plaintiff class was not consistent with Rule 23(a)...[which] requires a party seeking class certification to prove that the class has common “questions of law or fact.” Their claims must depend upon a common contention of such a nature that it is capable of classwide resolution—which means that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke...Respondents’ backpay claims were improperly certified under Rule 23(b)(2)...[which] applies only when a single, indivisible remedy would provide relief to each class member.

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Article
1 June 2011

US Supreme Court decision re Wal-Mart - commentary

Author: compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

On 20 Jun 2011, the US Supreme Court reversed an appeals court's decision to allow a gender discrimination lawsuit to go forward as a class action on behalf of potentially a million current and former employees. The following articles provide some analysis of the ruling: [includes material from AP, Atlantic, DiversityInc, Forbes blogs, Guardian (UK), Huffington Post, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, New York Times, Time, US Chamber of Commerce, Washington Post]

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