Women launch new discrimination claim against Wal-Mart

Lawyers representing women who claimed discrimination by Wal-Mart filed an amended lawsuit Thursday narrowing their claims to California stores of the retail giant. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges discriminatory practices against more than 90,000 women regarding pay and job promotion. The suit is expected to be the first of many cases against the retailer broken down by state and region. Lawyers for Wal-Mart indicated the new suit relies on the same theories expressly rejected by the US Supreme Court. The new suit seeks back pay for female employees of Wal-Mart in California between December 1998 and at least June 2004, as well as requiring nondiscriminatory pay and promotions criteria.

In August, a judge ordered that a group of women seeking to recover damages from Wal-Mart must file their lawsuits by October 28. In June, the US Supreme Court ruled in Wal-Mart v. Dukes that the group who filed the original claim did not meet the requirements for class certification. The original case was filed in 2001 by female Wal-Mart employees who contended that Wal-Mart's nationwide policies result in lower pay for women than men in comparable positions and longer waits for management promotions than men. Wal-Mart appealed to the Supreme Court in August 2010 after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld class certification in April of that year. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit originally ruled against Wal-Mart's appeal of the class certification in February 2007, then issued a new opinion in conjunction with its decision in December 2007. Wal-Mart appealed to the Ninth Circuit in 2005, arguing that the six lead plaintiffs were not typical or common of the class. The certified class, which in 2001 was estimated to comprise more than 1.5 million women, includes all women employed by Wal-Mart nationwide at any time after December 26, 1998. It would have been the largest class action lawsuit in US history.

(Published by Jurist - October 28, 2011)

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