The Supreme court has agreed to hear an appeal from Walmart against a billion-dollar sexist pay case. Walmart’s hardly been out of the news for months, but today’s headline is one the company probably prefers.
The lawsuit is the largest employment discrimination case in U.S. history, and the most recent move in was in April, where the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made a majority ruling that the class action, brought by the numerous plaintiffs, who worked in over 3,000 different stores in jobs across the employment spectrum, could go ahead. This decision hit Walmart hard, because the compensation amounts total in the billions of dollars.
Walmart’s case rests on one single point: It’s arguing that the individual claims by so many different people cannot be combined into a class action suit since the women concerned are too distributed for their claims to have merit as exemplifying endemic malpractice in Walmart. It’s a delaying tactic, of course–Walmart is no longer contesting guilt in these sex-discrimination cases (where hundreds of thousands of female employees were disadvantaged over many years) but is arguing a point of law about a class action case which would require it to make immediate decisions about reparations. If Walmart wins this appeal, which only legal eagles can make guesses about (although it doesn’t look good), then it could still face thousands upon thousands of individual cases, which will take many years to play out.