In the case of Dukes v. Wal-Mart, lawyers potentially representing 1.5 million female employees of the “big box” chain store alleged their clients were denied management positions and equitable pay because of their gender. The Supreme Court delivered a significant victory to Wal-Mart and other large American corporations on Monday when it delivered its decision to block this huge class-action suit.
The court ruled unanimously that the many plaintiffs' individual circumstances were too different to make up a single class action; and perhaps more significantly, in a 5-4 ruling along conservative political lines, the justice's ruled this case could not proceed as any kind of class-action suit.
In an official statement from Wal-Mart, Executive Vice President of People Gisel Ruiz said:
"Clearly, today’s ruling in the Dukes case has important legal implications, but, just as important, it pulls the rug out from under the accusations made against Walmart over the last 10 years. Every female associate and every customer can feel even better about the company as a result of today’s decision.
Walmart has a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates, and, over the years, we have made tremendous strides in developing women throughout the organization. In fact, we have created specific training and mentoring programs to help prepare women for opportunities at all levels in our company. As a result of our efforts, Walmart is often recognized as a great place for women to work."
Many people disagree, however, and still plan to pursue legal action. Howard Erichson, professor of law at Fordham Law School, speaks with us about the fiscal and legal repercussions of this case. Stephanie Odle, a former Wal-Mart employee (and one of the original plaintiffs in the case), and current owner of a frozen meal company in Norman, Oklahoma, weighs in as well.