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Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (N.D. Cal. No C-01-2252)

COURT SETS FILING DEADLINES FOR FORMER CLASS MEMBERS

The district court issued an order on August 19, 2011 setting deadlines for former class members to file a lawsuit or a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   Former class members who have received a right to sue letter from the EEOC for claims of pay and management promotion discrimination must file suit by October 28, 2011.  Read the order here

Case Update

June 20, 2011


On June 20, 2011, the Supreme Court reversed the class certification decision in this case".  Click Here for more information.

The Supreme Court agreed to Wal-Mart's request that it review the class certification decision.  Plaintiffs filed their brief to the Supreme Court on February 22, 2011 [PDF].  Oral argument before the Supreme Court occurred on March 29, 2011 at 10:00 am.

April 26, 2010


On Monday, April 26, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in an over 100-page decision that hundreds of thousands of female Wal-Mart current and former employees who have worked at Wal-Mart stores at any time since June 2001 are entitled to proceed with a massive class action lawsuit charging sex discrimination by America’s largest retailer.

In announcing the decision, a majority of the judges, who heard the case, found that it was a proper class action for female employees who have worked at Wal-Mart since the suit was filed on June 8, 2001. The class can seek lost pay and injunctive relief.  It sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether women who were employed prior to that date may be part of the class and whether the class can seek punitive damages.

Press Release [PDF]

March 24, 2009


On Tuesday, March 24, 2009, at 2:00 p.m, eleven judges of the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case, in San Francisco, California. This "en banc" panel of the federal appellate court will review the district court's decision to certify a class of all female employees who worked at Wal-Mart any time since December 26, 1998.  We are waiting for the court's decision.

February 13, 2009


On February 13, 2009, the Ninth Circuit granted Wal-Mart’s petition for rehearing en banc. The order taking the case en banc withdraws the previous opinion by a panel of three judges that affirmed class certification. The previous opinion, filed on December 11, 2007, remanded the case to the district court for trial and to reexamine the appropriate scope of the class.

June 21, 2004


On June 21, 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins ruled that six current and former Wal-Mart employees from California may represent all female employees of Wal-Mart who worked at its U.S. stores anytime since December 26, 1998 in a nationwide sex discrimination class action lawsuit. Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (N.D. Cal. No C-01-2252). In certifying the case as the largest civil rights class action ever certified against a private employer, the Judge described the case as “historic in nature, dwarfing other employment discrimination cases that came before it.” The Judge also noted that this case is being ruled upon in the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. “This anniversary serves as a reminder of the importance of the courts in addressing the denial of equal treatment under the law whenever and by whomever it occurs.”

The suit charges that Wal-Mart discriminates against its female retail employees in pay and promotions. The class in this case includes more than 1.6 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart retail stores in America, including Wal-Mart discount stores, super centers, neighborhood stores, and Sam’s Clubs.

"Up until now, Wal-Mart has never faced a trial like this," explained Brad Seligman, executive director of The Impact Fund, the co-lead counsel for the women. “Lawsuits by individual women had no more effect than a pinprick. Now, however, the playing field has been leveled. Wal-Mart will face the combined power of 1.6 million women in court.”

“Wal-Mart has been living in the America of thirty years ago, and those days are over. Certification of this class shows that no employer, not even the world’s largest employer, is above the law. This decision sets the stage for women at Wal-Mart to get their fair share of pay and promotions which have been denied them for years,” said plaintiffs’ co-counsel Joseph M. Sellers, who heads the civil rights practice at Washington D.C. ‘s Cohen Milstein  which represents the women in the case.

Wal-Mart, a global retail giant, reported sales in excess of $256 billion in the fiscal year ending January 31, 2004. Currently Wal-Mart owns and operates 3,566 stores in the United States. Wal-Mart employs more than 1.2 million employees in the United States, two thirds of whom are women, more women than any other company in the nation. Wal-Mart maintained that, despite claims to the contrary, it did not operate as a centralized unit, and that discrimination is not systemic. Plaintiffs argued that the corporation’s procedures and policies are indeed highly standardized, and the company more than able to track discriminatory practices.

“This ruling brings Wal-Mart one giant step closer to being as vigilant in accounting for equal pay and promotional opportunities for women as it is in keeping track of its stock of toothpaste, tires and t-shirts,” said plaintiffs’ co-counsel Irma D. Herrera, executive director of San Francisco-based Equal Rights Advocates.

The Judge noted that in their case, “plaintiffs present largely uncontested descriptive statistics which show that women working at Wal-Mart stores are paid less than men in every region, that pay disparities exist in most job categories, that the salary gap widens over time, that women take longer to enter management positions, and that the higher one looks in the organization the lower the percentage of women.”

The Court in reviewing all of the evidence found that together the evidence presented by the plaintiffs, “raises an inference that Wal-Mart engages in discriminatory practices in compensation and promotion that affect all plaintiffs in a common manner.”

The female plaintiffs and the class in this lawsuit are represented by three public interest non-profit groups, The Impact Fund (Berkeley, CA.), Equal Rights Advocates (San Francisco), Public Justice Center (Baltimore, MD), and four private law firms of Cohen Milstein (Washington, D.C.) Davis Cowell & Bowe (SF) and New Mexico’s Tinkler & Firth and Merit Bennett (Santa Fe, NM). Plaintiffs’ counsel includes some of the most experienced class action and sex discrimination attorneys in the country.

If you are a woman who has worked for Wal-Mart, call 877-966-2696 if you want information on this case. Please leave a message and someone will return your call.