Supreme Court Tosses Out Walmart Discrimination Case
A Supreme Court ruling may prove the end of class action suits as we have come to know them and businesses, Walmart in particular, couldn’t be happier.
In a unanimous vote yesterday, justices of the nation’s highest court blocked a sex discrimination case brought by up to 1.5 million women against the world’s largest retailer. The court concluded the case known as Dukes v. Walmart should never have been granted class action status by a California court under federal law.
The decision was huge for Walmart because a judgment against the company could have cost it billions. Now, individual plaintiffs will have to sue the chain on their own. This will likely mean that many who would have been plaintiffs in the class action will not sue on their own faced with the costs and prospects of going up against a business and legal department the size of Walmart’s.
In a separate vote, justices were split by a 5-4 margin, on whether the women bringing the suit had proven that there were enough common practices across the country at Walmart to demonstrate a corporate pattern of discrimination. The plaintiffs had tried to prove common practices at the company using statistical data, but five justices (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas) could not reconcile clear corporate policies prohibiting discrimination and individual acts of discrimination by managers even if they were allegedly widespread.
Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president, people, Walmart U.S., said in a statement following the decision, "Clearly today’s ruling in the Dukes case has important legal implications but just as important, it pulls the rug out from under the accusations made against Walmart over the last 10 years. Every female associate and every customer can feel even better about the company as a result of today’s decision."
- Walmart Statements Regarding Supreme Court Ruling in Dukes Case – Walmart Stores
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v Dukes Et Al. – Supreme Court of the United States
- Supreme Court blocks massive sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart – The Washington Post
- Wal-Mart lawyer Boutrous: Dukes class action never hung together – Thomson Reuters News & Insight
Discussion Question: What is your reaction to the Supreme Court’s rulings in the case of Dukes v. Walmart?