Although the Supreme Court shot down a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart earlier this year, a group of women are continuing to pursue a lawsuit against the retail super giant using a new tactic. The new lawsuit seeks to narrow the class of women alleging institutional discrimination to workers exclusively in California.
The thrust of the original (and now amended) lawsuit is that Wal-Mart systematically denied women workers pay raises and promotions. The original class action lawsuit was historic due to its size: around 1.5 million current and former female Wal-Mart workers. And it was due to this massive size that the Supreme Court took a dim view of the group’s status as a “class.” Essentially, the Court took the view that such a large group over such a large geography tied together only by gender could not, legally, constitute a class.
Many saw the Supreme Court decision in favor of Wal-Mart as a blow to workers’ rights and as a serious redefinition of what a legal “class” can be. After all, one of the purposes of class action lawsuits is to allow individuals with little power or resources to band together against entities with vast legal resources and deep pockets. If the Wal-Mart suit didn’t qualify, what would?
This new attempt seeks to address the Court’s concerns about the size and nature of the class by limiting the suit to just workers in California.
What’s more, the California suit is simply the first in a series of suits that will be filed in various regions over the coming months. These suits, too, will seek to thwart the Supreme Court’s concerns by limiting the geography of the Class.
Wal-Mart, of course, is ready to fight each of these suits on each new turf. As they argued before, the Wal-Mart strategy is to insist that there is nothing tying the experience of individual workers across large geographies despite their statistically similar experiences. Theodore Boutrous Jr., counsel for Wal-Mart, took a skeptical view of the plaintiff’s motives stating, “These lawyers seem more intent on alleging classes for their publicity value than their legal virtue.”
If you have been the victim of sex discrimination, retaliatory firing, or suffered a work related injury, you should immediately contact the experienced Washington Workers’ Compensation and Employment Law Attorneys at Emery Reddy to serve as your advocate in protecting your rights.