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Cath Everett

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Wal-Mart sex discrimination women vow to fight on


The women involved in the biggest sex discrimination case in history have said they will use alternative routes to continue their fight against Wal-Mart Stores after the US Supreme Court blocked their claim.

The country’s highest court overturned an earlier ruling that would have allowed as many as 1.6 million female Wal-Mart employees to sue the firm for allegedly paying women less than men and routinely passing them over for promotion.
Lawyers for the case, which was originally filed in 2001 on behalf of Wal-Mart worker Betty Dukes and five of her co-workers, also claimed that the firm’s corporate culture and employment policies fostered widespread gender stereotyping and that, while it knew of the discrimination, it failed to act.
But the Supreme Court ruled that the 10-year old gender bias case was too big to bring to trial. It also decided that it failed to meet a technical requirement for this type of class action and that the women did not have enough in common employment-wise to represent a class of people. The ruling was supported by five conservative judges and opposed by four liberal ones.
But the plaintiffs said that, even though they would no longer have access to pooled legal resources, were able to put less pressure on Wal-Mart and faced smaller amounts of compensation, they would still pursue their fight against the US’ largest private employer. The aim now was to take out smaller lawsuits in lower courts and file claims with the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Although Wal-Mart said that the high court ruling “effectively ends this class action lawsuit”, it could still face thousands of lawsuits and discrimination claims, potentially amounting to millions or even billions of dollars in damages.


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