On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the sex discrimination lawsuit brought by several women on behalf of 1.5 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart could not proceed as a class action. The decision to dismiss the class-action lawsuit was unanimous. If it would have been allowed to proceed, the lawsuit would have been the largest class action to ever proceed against a private employer. Had the lawsuit gone forward and succeeded, it could have cost Wal-Mart billions of dollars in damages.
According to the Associated Press, the justices said that the plaintiffs’ argument was contradictory and did not hold up. They said that Wal-Mart’s method of allowing regional managers decision-making power in promotions is a legitimate way to do business and does not equal a uniform policy of bias against women. The Supreme Court justices said that there was no way that it could be proven or disproven that 1.5 million women across different regions and under different managers had been discriminated against for the same reason and in the same way.
The lawsuit was filed 10 years ago by six women who wanted the lawsuit to represent all current and former female employees of Wal-Mart. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, it is now over as a class action. The plaintiffs claimed that women were systematically discriminated against in pay and promotions at Wal-Mart. They said that the discrimination was part of the corporate culture of Wal-Mart and allowed to happen because the company let its regional managers make decisions related to employees.
Supreme Court rejects Wal-Mart sexual bias suit (Associated Press)