The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider whether a class-action suit filed against Wal-Mart, representing 1.5 million former and current female employees, should be allowed to proceed.
The US Supreme Court agreed on Monday to examine whether a federal appeals court ruled correctly when it authorized a massive class-action lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of discriminating against as many as 1.5 million female employees.
If allowed to proceed, the lawsuit would be the largest employment class action in history. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the US, with 3,400 stores nationwide.
At issue in the appeal is whether the process established by the lower courts to litigate the case as a single trial complies with limitations set out in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Under a class-action lawsuit, a small number of individuals are permitted to file a lawsuit that may affect a much larger number of individuals with similar claims. The idea is that the small group can accurately represent the larger “class” of victims because the entire class shares the same injury.
Lawyers for Wal-Mart argue that employment discrimination claims against a nationwide company do not fit with a one-size-fits-all approach. There are substantial differences from region to region, store to store, and supervisor to supervisor in how Wall-Mart employees are hired, promoted, or fired, they argue. Those differences make this case the wrong vehicle for a class-action lawsuit, they say.