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Supreme Court rules in favor of Wal-Mart in class action suit

by Jorge Hernandez on June 21, 2011

A Supreme Court decision released Monday made it hard to launch a large-scale discrimination suit against an employer. The justices ruled in favor of Wal-Mart when they found that there was no proof of discrimination in a case brought by 1.6 million women against the retail giants.

The Associated Press reports the decision was split 5-4 down ideological lines, with the three female justices dissenting. Though they all agreed that the case could not continue in its current form, they disagreed on whether or not there were too many women already hired by the company in too many different positions for a case to be brought in the first place.

The case stems from a lawsuit brought by Christine Kwapnoski and Betty Dukes, who led the women in claiming Wal-Mart was guilty of giving unequal pay and promotions to men. Specifically, citing figures from 2001, it said that women represent just 14 percent of store managers. However, the company responded by saying it has changed its policies since then. Though the women lost this decision, they are still free to bring cases individually, though experts say that prospect of huge legal fees and a lengthy trial process may deter them.

In writing for Wal-Mart, Justice Antonin Scalia maintained that the plaintiffs had no strong evidence that they were being discriminated against.

"Because respondents provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy, we have concluded that they have not established the existence of any common question."

Offering the dissenting opinion was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who maintained that there was more than enough evidence to rule in favor of the women filing the claim.

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