Cho Yiu Ho
17 Jan. 2011
Issue Paper 1
American retail giant Walmart was going to face the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S history when a federal appeals court was ultimately allowed the combined multiparty litigation to move ahead to trial. After that, Walmart decided to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling of the federal appeals court. And the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
The lawsuit was first filed by Betty Dukes, a store greeter in Pittsburg, California, along with five of her co-workers in 2001. In that case, Walmart is accused of paying women on salary and those hourly wages less than men for the same jobs and giving them fewer opportunities for promotion. The workers also said that women workers made up more than 70 percent of Walmart’s hourly work force, but made up less than one-third of its store management in the past decade. The plaintiffs wanted back pay and punitive damage.
Now the question for the U.S Supreme Court is not if there was discrimination but if the claims by the individual employees can be combined as a class action. If the previous ruling stood, the case would cover about 1.5 million-plus women including all current and former women workers, and their claims could amount to billions of dollars. And this case will become the biggest private gender-bias case in U.S. history.
This case is a very important business issue for Walmart, and any senior manager of the organization should care about this. Not only because of the billions of dollars Walmart might have to pay out, but also the impact and damage it would cost on the company’s image. The plaintiffs in this case was seeking back pay and punitive damage, and due to the fact that over 1.5 million walmart female workers could be involved, the claim could be up to billions of dollars. This would be a big loss to the company. Also, Walmart tried to project an improved image for the organization,...