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California judge rejects Wal-Mart employees’ class-action suit

A U.S. District Court judge has rejected an attempt to file a class-action discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 150,000 female Wal-Mart employees in the state who claim that they were paid less than their male co-workers and not promoted at the same pace.

The lawsuit was one of a number that have their genesis in a class-action suit from 2001. The original suit represented approximately 1.6 million female Wal-Mart employees. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the suit. It ruled that there was not enough evidence of widespread gender discrimination by the Arkansas-based discount retailer. It also ruled that there were too many plaintiffs for one suit. As a result of that decision, attorneys for the women filed smaller class-action suits on behalf of women in individual states, and what Wal-Mart classifies as their “regions.”

According to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, the California suit had the same problems as were found by the Supreme Court in the larger suit. He said that it was still too broad to qualify as a class-action lawsuit, and that the women did not have enough evidence of widespread bias based solely on gender. The plaintiffs’ attorney, however, says that he plans to appeal the ruling. He believes they have a solid case that there has been widespread gender discrimination by Wal-Mart in the compensation and promotion of female employees.

The ruling does prevent individual women from filing suit against the retail giant based upon their own experience if they were discriminated against because of their gender. Any employee who believes he or she experienced discrimination in the workplace because of any protected category should contact an attorney who specializes in employment law to ensure that your rights are protected. These classes vary by state, so if you are not certain whether a particular category is protected in your state, contact a local attorney for advice.

The Washington Post, “Judge denies class action discrimination lawsuit for Wal-Mart women workers in California” No author given, Aug. 02, 2013

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