Class-action cases face critical test

Nov. 26, 2010 at 12:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The fate of class-action discrimination lawsuits against U.S. employers hangs in the balance of a Supreme Court decision, a law professor said.

The Supreme Court could decide next week whether it will listen to Walmart Stores Inc. argue that a discrimination suit filed on behalf of 1.5 million women workers is unjustified, as it broadly claims all 3,400 of its stores practiced discrimination against women.

Plaintiffs, however, say the only way to prove discrimination is systemic is to collect data from many stores, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Professor Deborah Hensler of Stanford Law School said, "If the Supreme Court takes this case, it will signal this business-friendly court is hostile to class actions against corporate defendants."

The Walmart case began with six plaintiffs filing suit in San Francisco. It now covers 1.5 million women who worked at Sam's Club and Walmart stores from 1998 to the present.

The size of a judgment against Walmart could reach billions of dollars, the newspaper said.

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