The Washington Post is reporting that the Supreme Court has accepted what will likely become the highest-profile business case of the year, agreeing to decide whether 1.5 million female employees of Wal-Mart can pursue job-discrimination claims in the largest employment class-action suit in the country’s history. The court accepted Wal-Mart’s appeal of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California that the suit could go forward.
The Supreme Court will not decide the merits of the claims first filed by six women in 2001. It will be looking at the question of whether a single suit is proper when alleging charges of pay discrimination and lack of promotions spread across thousands of stores in every region of the country. Business groups and civil rights groups are butting heads over the case. Business groups say that certification of a class-action suit puts pressure on the company to settle, whether or not the charges can be proved. Civil rights groups believe that class-action suits are the most effective way of making sure a business ends discriminatory practices and literally pays for its actions. Wal-Mart faces having to pay billions of dollars if the class-action suit is upheld. If common decency and following the law won’t motivate companies to treat employees equally, then potentially losing billions of dollars certainly should.
Read more at the Washington Post.