Copyright (c) 2006 Yeshiva University
Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender
NOTE: DUKES V. WAL-MART: CAN 1.5 MILLION WOMEN SAVE EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTIONS?
12 Cardozo J.L. & Gender 1009
In June of 2004, a federal district court certified the largest class action employment lawsuit in history against Wal-Mart. 1 The suit alleged a pattern and practice of gender discrimination by the largest retailer in the world, 2 affecting a potential class of more than 1.5 million female employees. It specifically alleged that "Wal-Mart discriminates against its female employees by advancing male employees more quickly than female employees, by denying female employees equal job assignments, promotions, training and compensation, and by retaliating against those who oppose its unlawful practices." 3 Not only has this suit garnered significant media attention, but it has also inspired the filings of a number of subsequent class action lawsuits against Wal-Mart. 4
Certification also comes at a time of vibrant public discourse on class actions in general. 5 In contrast to this very public debate, the Supreme Court has rarely had much to say on issues regarding class actions. Even in the rare instance where the Court has given some limited direction, it has consistently focused on issues outside the scope of employment law. 6 The cultural and legal significance surrounding the Wal-Mart suit makes it the ideal candidate for Supreme Court review. The Supreme Court should take this opportunity to resolve the long- standing circuit split regarding class certification in employment discrimination class actions and to remedy one of the largest instances of gender discrimination on record. In addition to the message that will be sent to the ...
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