Walmart: Supreme Court Rules in Sex Discrimination Suit
WASHINGTON (BDCi) – The Supreme Court blocked the largest sex-discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history on Monday, siding with Wal-Mart and against up to 1.6 million female workers in a decision that makes it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the nation’s other huge companies, too.
The justices all agreed that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. could not proceed as a class action in its current form, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. By a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the court also said there were too many women in too many jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap into one lawsuit.
“Because respondents provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy, we have concluded that they have not established the existence of any common question,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in his majority opinion.
Theodore Boutrous Jr., Wal-Mart’s lawyer, said the decision also would affect pending class-action claims against Costco and others. Companies as varied as the big Wall Street firm Goldman-Sachs & Co., electronics giant Toshiba America Inc., and Cigna Healthcare Inc. also face class-action claims from women they employ.
With 2.1 million workers in more than 8,000 stores worldwide, Wal-Mart could have faced billions of dollars in damages if it had had to answer claims by the huge group of women.
By Janete Weinstein
June 20, 2011