Court Rules Wal-Mart Gender Discrimination Case Can Proceed as Class Action
A strongly divided federal appeals court narrowly ruled on Monday that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart could proceed as class action case. With more than one million women listed as plaintiffs, this ranks as the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history.
This case has been bogged down in appeals for nearly a decade. Monday’s ruling now paves the way for a trial where the plaintiff class is seeking billions of dollars in damages from Wal-Mart.
The lawsuit, which originated in 2001, claims that Wal-Mart systematically paid their female employees less than their male employees, offering them smaller raises and fewer opportunities for advancement. In support of these allegations, the class of plaintiffs argues that women comprise only 33% of the Wal-Mart managerial team, while they make up approximately 65% of the hourly employees.
Wal-Mart is vehemently denying the allegations, claiming that this lawsuit represents allegations brought by a handful of employees and does not reflect their overall treatment of more than one million women on their staff.
One of the central issues at stake was whether the size of the class action would pose an unmanageable situation for the pending litigation. While the federal appeals judges differed on this subject, a narrow majority seemed to believe that the large number of plaintiffs would not be an insurmountable hurdle. As a result, the case will move forward with more than one million women listed as plaintiffs.
However, Monday’s ruling may prohibit women who no longer work at Wal-Mart from participating in the lawsuit. If so, this could reduce the size of the class action suit substantially.
Written by Andrew Martin: professional blogger and guru of misfortune.