Tuesday, June 21, 2011

High court tosses out massive Wal-Mart lawsuit

Deborah Gunter said she was stunned Monday to learn the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the largest anti-discrimination lawsuit in history, ruling against her and 1.6 million female workers of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Gunter, 61, was running errands with her husband when she found out the court ruled that the lawsuit she helped file in 2001 did not qualify as a class-action case.

"I just can't believe this because after all the cases we won — and the Supreme Court said 'no,'" said Gunter, who lives in Yucca Valley.

The justices ruled unanimously on a procedural point that the lawsuit could not proceed as a class action, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

But by a narrower 5-4 vote that came closer to touching on the facts of the case, the court said there were too many women in too many jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap into one lawsuit and that the women had not proven that the company abided by a common, discriminatory policy.

Instead, the court said, decisions about pay and advancement were made by individual store managers in individual cases.

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