Does Wal-Mart Owe Billions to Female Employees?


Here’s the story: Hundreds of thousands of female employees banded together in a class action suit against Wal-Mart Stores, claiming that they were discriminated against in terms of both pay and promotions.

The case dates back to 2001, and it’s the biggest employment discrimination case in U.S. history. The lawsuit is seeking billions of dollars in wages for the women.

What’s happening now: On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Wal-Mart, arguing that the women—who worked in some 3,400 different Wal-Mart stores—cannot stand together in a class action suit.

What this means: The Supreme Court case won’t decide whether the women were discriminated against. That comes later.

First, the Court has to decide whether the women can combine their individual claims of discrimination into a unified class action suit against the giant retailer.

If the Supreme Court reviews the case and decides in favor of Wal-Mart—i.e. that the women can’t join forces this way—it’s going to be much harder for the women to sue for discrimination and obtain just compensation.

Why you should care: Although the Wal-Mart case may have nothing to do with you personally, it could be part of a larger trend that affects all women.

Now that Congress has scuttled the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have offered women greater legal recourse when employers discriminated against them, it’s up to us to seek equal pay.

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