Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in massive job discrimination lawsuit
June 20th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in massive job discrimination lawsuit

The Supreme Court put the brakes on a massive job discrimination lawsuit against mega-retailer Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., saying sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was simply too large.

The ruling Monday 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 impact nearly every private employer, large and small.

Toobin: Why justices shut down Wal-Mart case

Gisel Ruiz, Executive Vice President for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement the company was "pleased" with the court's ruling.

"Walmart has had strong policies against discrimination for many years. The Court today unanimously rejected class certification and, as the majority made clear, the plaintiffs’ claims were worlds away from showing a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy," the statement said. "By reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the majority effectively ends this class action lawsuit.

“Walmart has a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates and will continue its efforts to build a robust pipeline of future female leaders.”

The case is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (10-277).

soundoff (948 Responses)
  1. StewartIII

    NewsBusters: CNN.com Offers Readers Inaccurate, Biased Take on Supreme Court Wal-Mart Ruling

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2011/06/20/cnncom-offers-readers-inaccurate-biased-take-supreme-court-wal-mart-ru

    June 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • PithyMcGee

      You're not the brightest bulb in the box, are you?

      June 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    Protect the corporations, let the little guys suffer. then pathetically try and cloak it as justice or 'law'

    everyone knows law is just sanctioned violence against the weak

    June 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      john: "Protect the corporations, let the little guys suffer. then pathetically try and cloak it as justice or 'law'"

      And how are they protecting corporations or letting the little guy suffer here? I get the feeling you believe the little guy is suffering because you're either retarded, or massively uninformed.

      "cloak it as justice or law"

      Ah, yes. Justice and law. "Justice and law" means doing what's fair and right for all parties involved. Not to find every case against Walmart because they're a big, evil corporation.

      Please go cry elsewhere. Or move to Venezuela.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The decision did NOT dismiss any cases, it only stated that it was too broad and disparate in individual instances to be considered ONE case.
      So, there can be multiple class actions by region or state or even individual cases brought.

      Law is WHAT? Leave the anarchist creed alone, you make a fool of yourself. Law is violence against the masses, so no law is good? Without laws, a civilized society is impossible. Without laws, oppression would rule, murder would be the normal course of the day. Your argument is foolish in the extreme and is a grave danger to society, were such foolish things to be considered.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tellnolies

    SCOTUS rule 9-0 that the class of female Walmart employees claiming discrimination should not have been certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), but four of the Justices dissented in part on the grounds that the Court majority had ruled too broadly and should have remanded (sent the case back to the trial court) to decide whether the class was properly certifiable under FRCP 23(b)(i).

    The majority opinion was authored by Antonin Scalia and the dissenting opinion by Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The 5/4 split was right along conservative/liberal lines.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rose

    BOYCOTT, WAKE UP UNION WAL-MART ASSOCIATES NEED YOU

    June 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So, you espouse the rule of the mob to the rule of law?
      Or are you so foolish that you cannot read the decision for yourself AND you are unable to locate your capslock key?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. El Kababa

    Our only protection from employer mistreatment of employees and defective-to-lethal product defects is for corporations to fear large judgements from lawsuits. Government regulation is almost non-existent, corporations have purchased most of our state legislators, governors, and Congressmen, and government regulators are showered with corporate bribes.

    Fear of litigation is the ONLY reason corporations do not put anti-freeze in baby formula or fire diabetics to save on insurance.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      kababa: "Fear of litigation is the ONLY reason corporations do not put anti-freeze in baby formula or fire diabetics to save on insurance."

      You shoot yourself in the foot, you realize that right? If corporations are afraid of lawsuits, because they'll lose money, it stands to reason they won't put anti-freeze in baby formula. Why? Because then no one will buy their products.

      Barring a monopoly over the market, which defeats free markets, corporations will have to offer only 1) what people want, and 2) how they want them.

      Good job.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • PithyMcGee

      Nah – your argument that it would harm the business model is the same one used years ago to prop up the big tobacco argument. It was a loser then, it's a loser now.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • HORRIBLE

      AMEN

      June 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Kababa

      Why did Toyota knowingly produce a car in which the accelerator pedal stuck? They knew about it for years. A tiny modification would have eliminated the problem and saved lives. Yet, they continued to use the same design because they didn't want to have to recall and repair thousands of vehicles. They did not fear the government.

      Why did BP fake tests and shortcut safety procedures that were in place, thereby poisoning the Gulf of Mexico? They had no fear whatsoever of government regulators. There were only three inspectors for thousands of oil rigs.

      Tobacco companies fearlessly poison their customers. Killing their customers and paying the occasional lawsuit is just a cost of doing business to them.

      I am MUCH more afraid of the companies I do business with – like Time-Warner, Wells Fargo, Walmart, Target, Sears, Chase, Exxon, Shell, etc. – than I am of my federal government.

      Now, neither Toyota nor BP have been boycotted, lost customers, or suffer from reduced revenue. The punishment for their crimes was nothing. The Directors continued to order big bonuses for executives in both companies.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      If government regulation were "almost non-existent", the care would be unable to be heard, as the case RELIES upon the regulation of LAW. No law, no case.
      Go read the decision for yourself. It was based EXCLUSIVELY on rules of evidence and the lower court ruling WAS defective.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PithyMcGee

    I'm shocked by the outpouring of support for the SCOTUS's decision. You folks obviously are blinded by your hatred for all things litigious. That, or you're trolls or corporate shills, or you graduated business school from a place that should be shut the fvck down because they didn't instill a proper sense of ethics. The suit HAD to be filed for all women past present and future because a suit for individual women will only stop them from damaging those women's careers. The suit on behalf of all women is the best chance at justice the affected had. If you think it's just aliberal thing to hate this decision, you're off your rocker. Two professors in the business school at my Christian University (in Mississippi, no less) are appalled at the ruling. It's a bad decision that falls in line with the other decisions that HIGHLY favor corporations over individuals.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      It is YOUR business school that should be shut down, as they disparage the rules of evidence and wish to be scofflaws.
      The decision did NOT dismiss any case, they said that the topic was too wide and disparate to be considered as one case.
      The parties are free to consolidate within regions or even states and bring their smaller and more similar cases.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richard Cheese

    So glad to see that corporations are now immune from underhanded tactics because the cases may be "too large" for our court system to handle. Way to set the precedent, Supreme Court! I guess there is an extent to which the law can reach.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tommy

    It's pretty impressive how CNN actually managed to completely distort their actual ruling.

    The court didn't rule that it was "too big", they ruled that you can't sue on behalf of the entire female population of a company without first proving that they were all subjected to the same discrimination. Hiring and firing at Walmart is handled at the store level, so you have to sue the stores themselves.

    Additionally, this case was built completely on the testimony of three female employees who weren't at the level they wanted to be at, and "evidence" of a study conducted by a sociologist that stated that there MUST be discrimination because women represent 70% of Walmart's workforce but only a third of their managers. But he couldn't estimate how many women were actually subjected to discrimination.

    Yea, surely there are some people there that are subject to discrimination, but you can't site some watered-down study as proof that a massive, multi-national company with thousands of stores in numerous countries all operate on a company-wide policy of discrimination.

    You people should actually try to read the facts when you see CNN report some garbage story like this. Believe it or not, the truth oftentimes makes more sense than you would think... but don't take my word for it... feel free to see for yourself...

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-277.pdf

    June 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I read it. THere was also question on the study performed by that sociologist, as those who originated his methods utilized by the study had found it flawed.
      CNN DID goober it down excessively, to the point where the story was meaningless and inaccurate.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Camp

    Walmart isn't too big to sue, it was the class-action side of the lawsuit that was too big to defend against.

    There's three glaring flaws in this class-action lawsuit. (Some of the justices think there's only two, but all Walmart needed was one).

    1. There's no proof of a hidden corporate culture undermining the official corporate policy against discrimination. Since the managers have so much discretion on how to run their stores, you can't say every single Walmart store is discriminatory.

    2. You can't have a mandatory (where everyone is automatically involved) class-action lawsuit seeking back pay as a monetary damage. In this case, each person should have the right to opt-out of the class.

    3. Five of the justices stated that this class cannot be certified as one class, because they suffered different damages (no raise vs. no promotion vs. forced to quit). Also, it is difficult to prove why any one individual woman was disfavored. It is possible that some of these women were simply bad workers and did not deserve it.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Bob, it's a real shame that YOU didn't write this article. You were accurate, unlike the article. Clear and concise.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Motts

    Totally agree, why should a consumer "wait" for someone to take their money, the "Boss" should definitely do something, since there's no reason for these hourly people to "perform" since it will be the same pay.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. No name

    If the devil takes something and u wanna take him to court you'll never win because he has all the good dead lawyers

    June 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. admonition

    It's fishy, I smell a feminist vicarship group that hates men and are trying to bring dowm walmart cause the mom and pops of the world are still mad about walmart and sams club beating them out of their taco stands.

    June 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Kababa

      I think you have an imagination problem.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Women simply don't work as hard as men, take more time off, have more excuses and cause more personal conflict than men.

    June 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Kababa

      True. They remind me of Southerners. All talk and no work. Back-slapping around the water cooler all day and leaving work at 3pm. Also, Jews are notoriously lazy. Why do you think they have all those extra holidays? Not so they can work hard, that's for sure. And Mexicans. I could go on all day about the Mexicans.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joe

    @Joel: glad to see a few people have common sense. 90% of you people are lazy a ss, good for nothing bums, and I'll guarantee you that a lot of the people in this lawsuit are too. For you idiots that want to see Walmart fail, that's real intelligent thinking countless thousands of jobs would be lost and moist of those people would have a hard time finding another job. Get a clue you morons.

    June 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. joe

    @Joel: glad to see a few people have common sense. 90% of you people are lazy a ss, good for nothing bums, and I'll guarantee you that a lot of the people in this lawsuit are too. For you idiots that want to see Walmart fail, that's real intelligent thinking countless thousands of jobs would be lost and most of those people would have a hard time finding another job. Get a clue you morons.

    June 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
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