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Wal-Mart sex bias lawsuit will affect employment class actions

As reported in an earlier post, the U.S. Supreme Court justices listened last week to arguments in what could be the largest class-action lawsuit claiming discrimination in employment to ever be brought against a private employer. The justices will now have to decide whether to allow the sex discrimination lawsuit brought by six women against Wal-Mart, the world’s largest private employer. The women would like the lawsuit to represent all female employees currently or formerly employed by Wal-Mart since 1998.

The justices will have to consider both the standards and laws regarding class actions, as well as federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination in making their decision. Some news organizations, including Bloomberg News, report that it seems the court favors Wal-Mart at this point.

According to Bloomberg, the court split along gender lines, with the three female justices questioning whether Wal-Mart had an obligation to stop any sex discrimination if the company was aware of it. Kennedy seemed skeptical of the plaintiffs’ arguments, and he is seen as being a swing voter in the group.

Businesses in support of Wal-Mart have argued that if the case is allowed to proceed as a class action, it could lead to a surge in employment and antitrust lawsuits and other lawsuits against corporations. The justices are expected to make a decision by late June.


High court appears to favor Wal-Mart in gender-bias case (Bloomberg News)

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