In a second victory for retail giant Wal-Mart, a California judge denied class action certification to a group of women who claimed discrimination based on gender.
The California case was filed in 2011 after the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) threw out a class action matter against Wal-Mart that claimed gender discrimination on behalf of approximately 1.5 million women. Their claims included:
Wage inequities. Similar pay was not offered for similar work.
Promotional bias. Opportunities for advancement were skewed against qualified women.
Company-wide policies. Discriminatory practices were systemic throughout the company.
In its 2011 opinion, SCOTUS noted the crux of [the] case was commonality of the discrimination experienced by the women, but company-wide discrimination was not supported by the evidence. In ruling for Wal-Mart, the court was troubled by the lack of legal or factual questions common to all claimants.
In the California matter, the ruling of United States District Court Judge Charles Breyer echoed the concern for lack of support for a common legal question noting, “[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.”
While neither the SCOTUS nor Judge Breyer commented on individual claims of discrimination, the rulings more clearly establish a benchmark for determining a common issue as the basis for certification of a class action lawsuit.
These cases sought billions of dollars in compensation for systemic discriminatory pay and promotion policies.