Supreme Court to hear Walmart case
By Jonathan Birchall in New York Published: December 7 2010 01:34 | Last updated: December 7 2010 01:34
The US Supreme Court is to decide whether the largest class action employment lawsuit in US history can proceed against Walmart, the discount retailer, in a case that is being closely watched by other large corporate employers.
Walmart appealed to the highest US court in the summer after a federal appeals court in California gave the go-ahead for a sex discrimination suit filed in 2001 that now covers an estimated 1.5m current and former women employees.
The case was brought in the names of seven former and current Walmart women, who claimed that they had been passed over for promotions and paid less than men for doing the same work.
It asserted that the work experiences of the seven named plaintiffs represented a wider culture of discrimination at the retailer, which justified granting the case class action status.
The Supreme Court will rule, not on the merits of the case, known as Dukes v Walmart, but on Walmart’s claim that the class is too broadly constituted, and that the complaints should be brought on a more localised or individual basis.