As discussed in the previous post, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in what could be the largest class-action sex discrimination lawsuit ever brought by employees in the U.S. The Supreme Court will not be deciding whether Wal-Mart systematically discriminated against women in pay and promotions as the plaintiffs claim, but whether the plaintiffs can pursue their lawsuit on behalf of all current and former employees, which could mean up to 1.6 million plaintiffs.
Wal-Mart will argue that the size of the potential class-action makes it unmanageable and indefensible. The plaintiffs argue that the sex discrimination was so widespread and systematic across Wal-Mart that a class-action lawsuit is warranted. According to a recent article on the case by CNN, the plaintiffs argue that over the last ten years, Wal-Mart’s hourly workers were 70 percent women, but less than one-third of store managers were women.
If the Supreme Court rules the lawsuit can go forward as a class action, it would be a blow to Wal-Mart’s case and they could decide to settle at some point. According to CNN, Wal-Mart’s attorneys will argue to the Supreme Court that a decision to allow this case to proceed as a class action could open the door to an avalanche of similar huge class-action lawsuits. Wal-Mart argues that these costly lawsuits would hurt jobs and the economy and not help the thousands or millions of plaintiffs.
According to CNN, the plaintiffs’ attorneys counter that Wal-Mart is simply trying to argue wrongly that it is too big to have a class-action lawsuit brought against it. But, they argue that every company, no matter how big, can have a civil rights claim for widespread discrimination brought against it.
Justices to hear appeal over Wal-Mart gender pay lawsuit (CNN)