A group of women working for Wal-Mart sought to start a class action lawsuit for discrimination against 1.5 million women – one of the largest class actions in history. To do so, they had to show that the 1.5 million claims shared a lot in common. In Wal-Mart v. Dukes (June 20, 2011) the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the women could not sue as a class because they could not show such “commonality.” The Supreme Court noted that the women “wish to sue about literally millions of employment decisions at once…without some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together[.
The women’s legal argument was fatally inconsistent because they claimed that Wal-Mart’s policy of giving local store managers discretion caused the discrimination. The Supreme Court blasted this argument: “On its face, of course, that is just the opposite of a uniform employment practice that would provide the commonality needed for a class action; it is a policy against having uniform employment practice.”
The women can still sue on their own behalf, just not as the “class representatives” for one of the largest lawsuits ever filed.
June 21, 2011 – Castronovo & McKinney – Paul Castronovo