Supreme Court Dismisses Walmart Discrimination Suit
3:14 PM, Jun 20, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Supreme Court today unanimously dismissed a class action gender discrimination lawsuit against retail giant Walmart. The decision concluded that the suit, which claimed to represent hundreds of thousands of employees based on specific allegations of discrimination by three of the plaintiffs, was too broad, reversing the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. CNN reports:
In the suit, three former Walmart employees alleged they were discriminated against based on their sex, saying their managers denied them promotions while unfairly favoring men for those positions. Furthermore, the plaintiffs filed a class action suit, claiming that all female Walmart employees, as a class, were subject to discrimination by the company.
Although the decision to throw out the case was unanimous, four justices dissented from the majority on some of the particulars of the case.
“We are presented with one of the most expansive class actions ever,” Scalia writes for the majority, with which Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito concur.
“The crux of this case is commonality,” writes Scalia, who argues the plaintiffs did not show such commonality within the class represented in the suit. Scalia writes:
The majority argues that the plaintiffs offered no definitive proof that Walmart has a pattern of discrimination against female employees, based on three separate accounts from different employees at different stores and in different regions of the country. “Here respondents wish to sue about literally millions of employment decisions at once,” Scalia writes. “Without some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together, it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims for relief will produce a common answer to the crucial question why was I disfavored.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes the minority opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Ginsburg agrees with the Court’s decision to dismiss the case but dissents from part of Scalia’s opinion.
Read both opinions here.
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