Million Woman March - Walmart Sex Discrimination
Supreme Court Considers Sex-Discrimination Class-Action Suit against Walmart
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week on whether six women alleging workplace sex discrimination may represent as many as 1.5 million other women in a class-action lawsuit against Walmart, the nation's largest retailer. The issue before the Court is not whether discrimination occurred, but whether all of the women alleging discrimination have enough in common to join together in one lawsuit.
Class-action suits pose potent threats of liability to employers on a wide range of discrimination issues. Last year, the ten largest settlements of employment class actions totaled $346.4 million – four times the total in 2009. These suits involved claims of discrimination based on race (four cases), age (three cases), gender (two cases) and disability (one case).
The largest of these settlements involved a case brought on behalf of 5,600 female employees of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., who – like the plaintiffs in the Walmart case – alleged that they had been discriminated against in terms of pay and promotions based on their gender. After a jury returned a record verdict of $253 million in favor of the employees, Novartis settled the case for $175 million while its appeal was pending.
Given the result in the Novartis case involving 5,600 employees, it's no wonder that Walmart is fighting hard to prevent a class-action suit from proceeding on behalf of 1.5 million employees. The threat of class actions is just one of many reasons that all employees need to be concerned about workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: workplace discrimination, sexual harassment