Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes: Was it employee benefits or employee discrimination?Blog added by Gregory Moss on July 18, 2011
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Gregory Moss

Mableton, GA

Joined: November 17, 2010

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The number one question facing workers in the United States today is how can there be employee benefits when there is obvious employment discrimination in the work place. The class of gender, race or disability has no bearing on the any employee’s work performance. The employee can either perform their duties, or they should be fired without any quid pro quo (“this for that”) harassment.

Legal scholars and labor attorneys are all baffled and bewildered at this decision that is sure to resonate beyond any other employment discrimination in the work place.

Employees are now forced to address the issue of discrimination individually rather than as a class. Without a shadow of doubt that they are not the only one this is affecting.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out an enormous employment discrimination class-action suit against Walmart that had sought billions of dollars on behalf of as many as 1.5 million female workers.

The court’s decision on the employment discrimination issue will certainly affect all sorts of other class-action suits, including ones brought by investors and consumers, because it tightened the definition of what constituted a common issue for a class action. The decision is forcing lower court judges to only consider the merits of individual plaintiffs’ claims in deciding whether they may proceed as a class.

Business groups welcomed the decision, and labor and consumer groups strongly criticized it. But all agreed it was momentous.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority of the court could not get the answer to the question from the class; why was I disfavored? The case that is sure to change America’s employee benefits claimed that Walmart’s policies and practices had led to countless discriminatory decisions over pay and promotions.

Questions will always arise in the future of whether this justice decision is tunnel vision without looking peripheral. In his own words, Scalia would rather see one infraction alone than multiple infractions.

Even before the ruling, the case was affecting pending class-action suits. Just recently, workers and Best Buy Co. agreed to settle a case that alleged the electronics retailer systematically discriminated against women and minorities in hiring and promotions. The company agreed to change its personnel policies and pay monetary awards of only $290,000, to be divided among the nine named plaintiffs.

The Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes decision has set a higher barrier for bringing several types of nationwide class actions against large companies with many branches. Employee benefits will be altered forever.
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