SCOTUS rules against plaintiffs in Wal-Mart discrimination case

Kate Tummarello Contributor
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The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the vast class-action lawsuit brought by former and current female employees of discount giant Wal-Mart is not legitimate in its current form. The lawsuit could have included as many as 1.5 million women.

The case, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (10-277), is based around the claim that female employees faced gender-based discrimination when pursuing higher wages and promotions. Wal-Mart’s corporate structure requires decisions regarding wages and promotions to be made by local managers, with little oversight from employees higher up the corporate ladder. The plaintiffs allege that, because of this system, local managers are allowed to make entirely subjective decisions regarding wages and promotions, and these decisions, more often than not, favor male employees over female employees.

According to the ruling, delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, this case cannot continue as such a vast class-action lawsuit because it does not fulfill the requirement that a decision would “resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke.” In other words, the individual instances of alleged discrimination being included in this lawsuit do not share enough specifics to be ruled on at once.

After this ruling, the individuals who filed the suit may pursue their own individual lawsuits against Wal-Mart.