A decade ago, six women filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart and sought class-action status so that the lawsuit could represent all current and former female employees of Wal-Mart, or about 1.5 million women. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit could not proceed as a class action.
The justices ruled unanimously that the class action was too big, and they did not believe that the plaintiffs could prove that discrimination against women in pay and promotions had been systematic or part of a uniform Wal-Mart employment policy because the women worked across various regions under different managers.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that a class action was needed because the discrimination was widespread and systematic and part of a culture of bias against women at Wal-Mart.
According to the Associated Press, the justices said that the plaintiffs could not prove a uniform policy had been in place at Wal-Mart to discriminate against women because decisions in employment matters were left up to regional managers. The plaintiffs wanted to prove that women were promoted much less often than men because of widespread discriminatory employment practices.
The plaintiffs argued that even though about two-thirds of Wal-Mart employees are women only a small percentage of its managers are women, and that women are paid less than men for similar jobs. According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court disagreed that these figures could be the basis of the class-action lawsuit and said that differences in pay for men and women for similar positions are only found at a few stores.
Supreme Court rejects Wal-Mart sexual bias suit (Associated Press)