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Monday, June 20, 2011

Supreme Court Sides With Wal-Mart in Class Action Suit


The Supreme Court put the brakes on a massive job discrimination lawsuit against mega-retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc., saying the plaintiffs had not shown justification for sweeping class-action status that could have potentially involved hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers.

The ruling Monday -- which addressed the claims in the lawsuit only in terms of whether they supported such a huge a class action -- was a big victory for the nation's largest private employer, and the business community at large.

The high-profile case-- perhaps the most closely watched of the high court's term -- is among the most important dealing with corporate versus worker rights that the justices have ever heard, and could eventually affect nearly every private employer, large and small.

"On the facts of the case," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority, the plaintiffs had to show "significant proof that Wal-Mart operated under a general policy of discrimination. That is entirely absent here."

He added, "In a company of Wal-Mart's size and geographical scope, it is quite unbelievable that all managers would exercise their discretion in a common way without some common direction."

While this particular class action has effectively ended, the individual plaintiffs could band together and file a series of smaller lawsuits aimed at individual stores or supervisors. Four more liberal justices agreed this particular class should not proceed to trial, but criticized the majority for not allowing the female workers to move ahead with their claims under a different legal approach.

"The court, however, disqualifies the class from the starting gate," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Wal-Mart's delegation of discretion over pay and promotions is a policy uniform throughout all stores," said Ginsburg, arguing the plaintiffs' claims had some validity. Establishing that delegation of discretion "would be the first step in the usual order of proof for plaintiffs seeking individual remedies for companywide discrimination." She was supported by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Of course, the company said it was pleased with the court's decision. 

Read More. 

If you ask me, and I know you didn't, the only message this sends to corporations is to become too big to sue.  If you can become as big as Wal-Mart, you wont have to face a class action suit or be forced to settle out of court because The Court will think its not fair to you. What about the workers? 

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