Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Class Action

The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the largest class-action lawsuit so far.

Supreme Court justices questioned the underpinnings of a massive class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart on Tuesday and whether female employees could show that a common, discriminatory policy governed the company’s pay and promotion decisions.

Even justices who seemed sympathetic to letting the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history proceed to trial had questions about how it might go forward.

Lawyers for women suing the nation’s largest retailer built their case on affidavits from more than 100 workers and a statistical model showing that, while women make up 80 percent of the company’s hourly workers, they account for only 30 percent of its managers. They allege pay discrepancies, unequal promotion policies and a male-dominated management.

But some justices said they had trouble understanding how, in the plaintiffs’ view, Wal-Mart carried out its policy of discrimination.

Just a hunch, but given the Court’s make-up and the majority’s love for business, I’m predicting a 5-4 ruling in favor of Wal-Mart and a set-back for class action lawsuits in general.