As discussed in the previous post, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the giant sex discrimination class-action lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart has put a spotlight on other pending class-action employment lawsuits. Some felt that the ruling would result in less class actions being filed by employees, but, now that a few weeks have passed, it has been seen that many, but not all, of these cases are still going strong.
Plaintiffs need to be able to show how they are all similar to each other because the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart case had not provided convincing evidence that 1.5 million former and current female employees across different regions and stores and under different managers were alike enough to sue as a class. A few recent class-actions have succeeded that were much smaller than the Wal-Mart case, but still significant.
Some companies have attempted to have judges decertify classes of employees that have sued them, citing the Wal-Mart decision. In California, a judge upheld the class-action status of a group of 1,000 drivers employed by C.R. England Inc., even though the company had asked that the class be decertified. Starbucks Corp. requested that a judge decertify a class of 700 employees that had filed a class-action lawsuit regarding overtime pay, but the request was denied.
A case in California lost its class-action status after the Wal-Mart decision. The judge in that case said that hundreds of Dollar Tree Inc employees could not jointly sue their employer in an overtime dispute.
Source: Reuters, Analysis: “Wal-Mart ruling no knock-out blow for class actions,” Moira Herbst, 12 July 2011