Supreme Court Justice Declares Bad Apples At Wal Mart
Washington, DC -- The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether or not it should allow a massive class action lawsuit against Wal Mart to continue.
The issue being determined by the court involves whether the plaintiffs can join together and sue as one sprawling class, or whether their allegations of discrimination are too diverse to be bundled together in a single, class action lawsuit.
If allowed to continue in its current form, the claim would likely be the largest class action civil rights case ever in the U.S. The lawsuit, which began in 2001, accuses Wal Mart of methodically discriminating against potentially millions of its female employees in terms of promotion and pay. The female employees claim they were paid less than men in equivalent positions, and that the retailer favored placing men in promotions at its 3,400 store locations in the U.S.
At the hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court was not hearing arguments on whether Wal Mart had actually discriminated, but merely whether or not the case can continue as a class action lawsuit.
The key issue for a majority of the justices seemed to be whether Wal-Mart, as a company, had in place policies that incited supervisors to look upon women employees differently than men. Theodore J. Boutrous, Attorney for Wal Mart, argued the retailer was totally against discrimination, and that any instance of unequal pay or differential treatment would have been the result of rogue managers acting entirely on their own.
That argument clearly resonated with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. He questioned whether Wal Mart should be subject to a class action lawsuit and declared that among thousands of stores, "you're going to have some bad apples."
The lawsuit is not likely to be settled anytime soon. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the case can proceed as a class action by mid summer.
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