In what some may see as a modern version of “David and Goliath,” the women of Wal-Mart have fought for over a decade to challenge the discriminatory pay and promotion practices of the mega-retailer, which is located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and is the largest private employer in the U.S. Last year, adding insult to alleged injury, the Supreme Court denied class certification in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011) – finding that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the “commonality” requirement for class actions when they failed to provide proof that “[Wal-Mart] operate[d] under a general policy of discrimination.” The decision dealt a strong blow to those who would seek to become modern-day “Davids” – leading NWLC’s Co-President, Marcia Greenberger, to issue the following statement:
"Today’s ruling undermines the very purposes of the class action mechanism and is tantamount to closing the courthouse door on millions of women who cannot vindicate their rights one person at a time. The women of Wal-Mart — and women everywhere — will now face a far steeper road to challenge and correct pay and other forms of discrimination in the workplace."
The plaintiffs subsequently limited the size of their class by region – new class actions were filed in California and Texas, and complaints were filed with the EEOC in 48 states – and cut out women who held certain positions in response to the Supreme Court decision. Read more »
Senate sponsors Franken and Blumenthal joined House sponsor Representative DeLauro to introduce the bill, seeking to remedy the damage done by the Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision, handed down by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision a year ago yesterday.
Senator Franken spoke about how the decision is a barrier to employees trying to come together as a group to enforce antidiscrimination laws against employers. These cases, Senator Franken said, are important because employees who band together are much more powerful than individuals. Senator Franken explained that EEORA creates "group actions," which restore the ability for workers to band together to challenge widescale discrimination.
This legislation is necessary, Senator Blumenthal (pictured above, Senator Franken in background) added, because the Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision created barriers that "set back the cause of justice in this country." Read more »
The Supreme Court earlier this year prevented female Wal-Mart employees from forming a national class to enforce their rights against the retail giant. Despite evidence that female employees throughout the nation earned less than similarly situated male employees and were less likely to be promoted, and that Wal-Mart’s corporate policies and practices allowed for managers to use blatant sex stereotyping to make decisions about pay and promotions, the ruling prevented the women from having their case heard on the merits. Now, these women have changed their strategy to get their day in court and vindicate their rights to equal opportunity in the workplace. Read more »