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. Chris Freely

    Too large? That's just sick, sick, sick. Sorry no justice for you millions of abused people, the case is too "large". Another victory for corporate abuses and another slap in the face of the people by SCOTUS. FDR was right, pack the court.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Abused people- get real – you don't like your job go find work elsewhere! This is not even close to abuse! I don't like walmart and avoid shopping there but the supreme court did right!

      June 20, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Burton

      The ruling was pack the court with even more who would have supported the same ultimate conclusion?

      June 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    At first, I was outraged, and felt this was another Supreme Court "party lines" vote.

    When I saw the 9-0 vote (not mentioned yet in the first breaking news of the article), I was confused.

    I looked at the ruling and the issues, and it seems legitimate. Class action lawsuits need to be based on evidence showing a "similarly situated" group of individuals have had actions (or inaction) done against them. While I have zero doubt in my mind Walmart has systematically discriminated against women, I doubt that it's been done across the nation, and I know for a fact that there's zero EVIDENCE that there's been discrimination against women across the nation.

    In the end, I'm glad the Supreme Court ruled based on their knowledge of statistics. Statistics prove association, not causation, and plenty of lurking variables (which occur ALL the time in gender related cases) can show lesser association, or even reversal of association.

    I hope every woman Walmart discriminated against gets both actual and punitive damages, and I hope they find a way to find similarly situated groups rather than have to file individually, but in this specific case, I think the Supreme Court got the law right on this one.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • One

      Well said.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      You don't have punitive damages in class action suits. If they want punitive, they actually have to drop out of the class and sue individually.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jerseydevil

      Precisely! Peopel on here think that the case is being dismissed, and it is, but only as a class action lawsuit. The odds of women hopping on the bandwagon and taking advantage of the precarious position Wal-Mart was in made it impossible to say that EVERYONE was being discriminated against. Therefore, it should be done on a case by case basis.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Fox09

    This is an interesting situation. I am not sure that I agree with the conclusion (as described by CNN) that the Supreme Court came to. The reality is that the case does state that Wal-Mart has a fostered a culture of discrimination. The culture is not only seen in one state, but many states. When you have a group of similialy-situated indviduals, working for the same employer experiencing the same type of discrimination (or other illegal behavior) the courts will usually certify the class. Further, there have been many, many cases in the past where the members of said class were from different states, but experienced the same illegal behaviors from ppl acting within the scope of their employment (in this case mgmt). Granted this is the largest class, but that does not mean that it violates the law as it relates to whether it should be certified. I have a lot of questions on this one. CNN..please do a better job of presenting more information!! This is hardly enough!!

    June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      Looks like the plaintiffs CLAIMED the discrimination accross all the states, all the females, all the time but they didn't had enough evidence to SHOW that such similarity existed uniformely. What the Supremes said is basically that you can file a suit on behalf individual workers or on behalf of a narrower, more specifically defined group of workers, but you can't include blanketly all of them simply because they are females.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Big_D

    What do you expect from the court that said corporate money is free speech in elections? That said I don't think you have to worry about the USA falling into fascism, we’re there. Now we have FOX news owned by Saudi royalty and law by the highest bidder.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jan Strnad

    Welcome to government of the corportions, by the corporations, and for the corporations.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. hustlenflo

    5 corporate puppets appointed to the supreme court by Reagan – Bush Sr. and Dubya – they will always rule in favor of global corporate power and they will always rule against the people of the United States. Talk about legislating from the bench. One can only hope that Roberts, Scalia, and the other thugs will soon go to the heavenly reward they so richly deserve.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • AZLib


      June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Burton

      It was a unanimous decision

      June 20, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • jerseydevil

      @ Burton, people who post things like Hustlenflo have this preconceived notion of the MAN being out to get them and that everyone in government and corporate environments are evil. I harbor some of those sentiments, but you also have to step back and realize why they came to this unanimous decision.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. coolbreeze


    June 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    Not only should we boycott Wal-Mart, but we need to stand up to corporate greed, which has infected our Supreme Court! We need to have publicly finananced elections at the Federal and state levels so that corporate money no longer influences our elected officials. That is the only way we're going to get our democracy back. One defintion of fascism is when the interests of corporations and the government intersect. We are seeing it in America now.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. edjoh

    Big business now rules America with unabashed control Term limits for the S. Court.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. ftp37

    fight the power!!!!! dont talk about do something to bring walmart down couple notches, use ur voice, get organized, make love, not walmart!!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. idea

    Remember those corrupt consevatives Alito, John Robert .....are controlling the supreme court. Also remember when the same corrupt conservative took the decision that "coporate =people", the Obama 'haters were so delight (because less campaign contribution for Obama) without realizing that the republican justices were siding with corporate against American people. Now the same haters are complaining.... Too late guys

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Burton

    For those claiming a partisan agenda from the court, make sure you understand that the decision to block the case from going forward was a unanimous decision...all 9...conservative AND liberal...supported the ultimate decision to block the case. There was disagreement in how each of the 9 got to that decision but the ultimate ruling was unanimous and NOT partisan.

    The majority did hold that the for a class action suit of any caliber to continue, the class in question must have common elements so as to be considered "a class". A large group of women claiming discrimination is not in and of itself enough to be "common elements" in that there were all sorts of alleged forms of discrimination. I am sure that the lawyers will do their best to reorganize the female complainants into smaller more "common" classes and thus multiple lawsuits will legally go forward.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony Caudill

      Everyone knows the liberals lack spine since Stevens left. No, this was a bridge too far, they have overreached, and for that, they will pay.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • kristy a lamm

      Enough blame to go around, there is no conservative / liberal, black / white, etc... These distinctions are perpetuated to separate society. The only real distinction is rich and poor. We must look beyond the illusions that keep us fearful of one another, remember "united we stand, divided we fall"? The lawyers, judges and rich in this country are united. Everyone else is divided. We, the bottom 90% in this country are too big to fail, yet we are. Apathy and frustration has set in, but we are here using our right to free speech and that is a beautiful thing!

      June 20, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anthony Caudill

    This was not a "victory" for anyone, but an act of out-and-out theft by people pretending to the highest court in the land. The criminals must be brought to justice.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hermas

    Is it not Silly! Supreme Court decides on the Size of the case ?
    They are suppose to hear and simply say What is Justice!.
    So If Black Population or Hispanic population brings is some thing, Court will say It is too big to handle because volume is Is large !

    Wow! Great American Justice.

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. David

    The Supreme Court are NOT the brightest people in the room....

    June 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      nor are you!!!

      June 20, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • AWMessenger

      POTUS asked YOU to be a member of the Supreme Court, but YOU turned them down. So that's what YOU get for ... oh wait a minute. Perhaps YOU are bright enough to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Never mind.

      June 20, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35