May 24, 2019
  • Shift to focus on resolving individual worker claims
  • Same claims, individual plaintiffs from Dukes class

Walmart Inc. has managed to toss out allegations of pay discrimination brought by potentially thousands of women over the last decade, even garnering a U.S. Supreme Court win in 2011. Now the retail giant is being hit with a new round of individual pay bias lawsuits, alleging the same claims, as lawyers and former class members take another stab at having the merits of their cases heard.

Since February 2019, at least 13 individual lawsuits have been brought against Walmart, symbolizing a strategy shift by lawyers who represent the employees making the allegations. More are on the way, according to Cohen Milstein partner Christine Webber, who is serving as a litigation quarterback of sorts.

“There are a lot of women who have been personally affected by these practices,” Webber said. The change in strategic approach is “really focused on trying to wrap up this sort of unfinished business.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys across several states are now getting creative, pursuing curated individual claims against Walmart, after the Supreme Court nixed a class of about 1.5 million women in 2011 and effectively blocked smaller regional class actions against the company with a June 2018 decision in an unrelated securities case.

Most of those classes were shot down as courts questioned the timeliness of the claims or the certification requirements for each class. Walmart also settled with many of the named plaintiffs in the cases representing many workers.

The goal of the new individual suits? Finally close claims that have been years in the making by hitting Walmart from all sides, similar to how plaintiffs’ attorneys have approached mandatory arbitration clauses that include class waivers.

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