Wal-Mart Women Pick Up The Pieces

As predicted, many of the women who were unable to sue Wal-Mart for gender discrimination as a class are preparing smaller-scale claims. Now they've been given more time to do so.

It was the first time the parties were back in court since the Supreme Court ruled on Betty Dukes et al v Wal-Mart Stores, saying the women could not be considered a class because they failed to show significant commonality or an explicit policy that would unite their circumstances. On Friday, Wal-Mart's lawyers told a judge that they wouldn't prevent the women from being able to "start the clock fresh," and got a 120-day extension on filing their claims.

The amity will probably end when the women and their lawyers present their claims, which will likely be in the form of more tailored class action suits — for example, a group of women in California. Wal-Mart wants the claims to be as narrow as possible, obviously, to limit the amount it will likely have to pay out. Joseph Sellers, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs when they were trying to move forward as a class action, said last week of their setback at the Supreme Court, "There was this sense after the Supreme Court decision that the case was dead, and we dispute that."

Advertisement

There was also the widespread understanding that the Supreme Court's denial of class-actions status to the Wal-Mart women would make it far more difficult to sue as a class, in general, and Goldman Sachs is all for it in battling its own gender discrimination claim. On Thursday, they filed papers in a Manhattan U.S. district court saying that the Wal-Mart case "has powerful relevance here." Of one of the women alleging that Goldman Sachs underpaid and underpromoted women, they said, "The charge does not mention or allege any class-wide problem common to any 'similarly-situated women' plaintiff Chen-Oster seeks to represent. It does not set forth even one factual contention supposedly common to her and anyone else." In a post-Dukes world, they just might get their way.

Wal-Mart Agrees To Give Women Extra Time To File Discrimination Lawsuits [Bloomberg]
Related: Preview: Wal-Mart Plaintiffs Set For A Return To Court [Reuters]
Goldman Sachs Fights Bias Lawsuit, Cites Wal-Mart [Reuters]
Earlier: Wal-Mart Women's Fight Is Far From Over
How The Wal-Mart Women Lost