On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review a case from California called Dukes v. Wal-Mart. Dukes is a class action in which the plaintiffs claim that Wal-Mart engaged in a widespread practice of sex discrimination. They claim that Wal-Mart discriminated against women with respect to job assignments, pay decisions and training; and retaliates against women who complain about such practices.
The Supreme Court, however, will not decide whether Wal-Mart discriminated against its female employees. Instead, it will decide whether the plaintiffs can bring their case, on behalf of about 500,000 women who worked for Wal-Mart, in the form of a class action. Class actions make it easier for large groups of people to receive compensation when employers violate their rights. For that reason, employers routinely seek to prevent class actions. They try to force employees to bring their cases individually.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in California, decided that the class action could go forward. However, five of the eleven judges on that court believed that the class action should not go forward. Some people who regularly follow the Supreme Court believe that the Supreme Court, due to its bias against class action cases, will reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
If you are a Mainer who works for Wal-Mart, and you believe Wal-Mart has discriminated against you, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights.