Dukes vs. Walmart may go to Supreme Court

Aug. 25, 2010 at 5:14 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Walmart has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a sex discrimination case that could cost the retailer $1 billion, court papers show.

After nine years of court battles, Walmart is appealing the decision against it not with an argument on whether or not the discrimination occurred, but on the grounds that class-action status should not have been given to a case involving 1.5 million plaintiffs, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Four previous court rulings, most recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, have upheld the rights of plaintiffs to file what is said to be the largest discrimination case in U.S. history.

In its petition for a Supreme Court review, Walmart attorney Theodore Boutrous wrote, "This conflict and confusion in class action law is harmful for everyone -- employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes, and the civil justice system."

The case, Dukes vs. Walmart, began with a straightforward complaint that the retailer was paying women less than men for equal work and passing over women for promotions.

Besides presenting anecdotal evidence, the plaintiffs' attorneys submitted data that said one third of the store's managers were women, while, overall, two-thirds of its staff were women.

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