In early August a United States District Judge denied class action certification to a group of women who sought to represent 150,000 female workers in a case claiming discrimination on the basis of gender against retail giant Wal-Mart.
In San Francisco, Judge Charles Breyer ruled the women could not pursue a group claim because evidence did not suggest a general discriminatory policy on the part of Wal-Mart. Judge Breyer noted [t]hey have not amassed sufficient anecdotal evidence of bias and stereotyped thinking among management to establish significant proof of a general policy of discrimination within any management group.
In 2011, a case that counted 1.5 million workers was heard by the United States Supreme Court. The high court rejected the case on the basis that it did not demonstrate common questions of law or of fact. This similar problem plagued the smaller group of 150,000 California region workers who brought the case before the District Court for the Northern District of California. Allegations of the case include:
Wal-Mart practices regarding wages and promotion opportunities were discriminatory
Gender bias against women was company-wide
Men doing the same job were paid more than women
The Supreme Court and Judge Breyer found the claims were not sufficiently similar to warrant class action certification. However, neither court concluded individual discrimination claims of the women were invalid. Judge Breyer stated [t]his order does not consider whether plaintiffs themselves were victims of discrimination as alleged in their complaint; those individual claims shall proceed in this litigation.
Legal counsel for the plaintiffs indicates an appeal is being considered to give these women their day in court.