The Supreme Court, overturning a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled in favor of the retail giant. The Court dismissed the class action suit brought on behalf of 1.6 million of Wal-Mart’s past and current female employees. Alleging that they had encountered a glass ceiling in regard to pay and promotions in their posts as Wal-Mart employees, Betty Dukes and 5 others began this class-action nearly 10 years ago. At the trial stage, this case would have been certain to cost the corporation billions, setting new precedent for sex discrimination suits against other conglomerate of moguls present in the American market.
Both parties provided the Court with differing statistical information concerning women and their salaries and positions at Wal-Marts across the nation. Attorneys for the corporation argued that a class action representing every female employee of the company would be far too encompassing given that hiring and promotion decisions were made on an individual basis, independent of their counterparts. The Court sided with Wal-Mart; Justice Scalia noting the lack of commonality in the elements tying together “literally millions of employment decisions at once.” In essence, merging all Wal-Mart female employees both past and present into a single class and claiming that they have altogether been subjected to gender discrimination was not supportable.
The Supreme Court decision, crippling the women from bringing their claim in the form of a nationwide class action, is devastating to their cause and that of women fighting similar claims against other sizeable employers. Such a decision leaves the 6 original Plaintiffs and their successors with the somewhat unrealistic option of pursuing their claims individually, a task that would require them to take on the dauntingly exorbitant costs of doing so singularly.