Wal-Mart Continues Winning Streak In Regional Class Actions

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Female workers have sued Wal-Mart in a number of cases around the country, following the Supreme Court ruling in 2011 rejecting a nationwide class action. These new regional cases often make the same allegations of discrimination in pay and promotion that were the hallmark of the nationwide case. Wal-Mart has successfully argued that many of these new cases are untimely under the statute of limitations.

In a recent decision, a federal court in Wisconsin ruled that the class action claims were not barred by the statute of limitations. The court still dismissed the class action allegations, however, concluding that they were not appropriate for a class action format because they did not involve common questions of law or fact, which was the same problem with the nationwide class that the Supreme Court rejected. Ladik v.Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 13-CV-123-bbc (W.D. Wisc. May 24, 2013).

The female workers made a number of claims, including Wal-Mart: (1) did not have a formal system for identifying workers for management training; (2) did not publicize openings and disqualified female applicants; (3) permitted excessive subjective decision making for management openings; (4) displayed discriminatory attitudes towards the idea of women in management; and (5) paid women less than men. The Court indicated it was disturbed by the allegations, but noted that the regional policies being attacked were similar to the national policies that the Supreme Court ruled could not be the basis for a class action, because they required individualized, rather than common, factual analysis. While the scale of the problem was smaller, because the mid-western case was regional rather than national, it still presented the same type of problem that precluded class certification. Dismissing the class allegations at the outset of the case, the Court concluded there is "no reason to delay the inevitable."

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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