Employment Bulletin - June 22, 2011 - U.S. Supreme Court Ends Massive Class Action Against Wal-Mart


On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down its heavily anticipated decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, regarding whether or not the plaintiffs could pursue sex discrimination claims on behalf of more than one and half million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart. The Court found that the case could not proceed as a class action because the alleged class did not share common questions of fact or law. Further, the Court held that claims for individualized relief (such as backpay) do not satisfy the requirements for a class to be certified under the federal rules.

In Dukes, three female employees brought suit for gender discrimination under Title VII. They alleged that Wal-Mart has a “strong and uniform” corporate culture that permits bias against women and that this culture resulted in lower pay and fewer promotions for female employees compared to male employees. In support of their claims, the plaintiffs relied upon statistical evidence and testimony from a sociologist who opined that the company was vulnerable to gender discrimination. The plaintiffs sought to bring their claims as a class action on behalf of more than a million and half women who worked at Wal-Mart stores throughout the country since 1998.

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