AABP Award 728x90

One for all?


In a case with implications for businesses facing class-action lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments about whether six women employed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can represent 1 million of its workers.

The justices today said they will review a federal appeals court decision that approved a single suit to cover the claims of women who worked at the retailer’s 4,400 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores since 2001. The suit, which threatens Wal-Mart with billions of dollars in liability, would be the largest-ever U.S. employment class action, Bloomberg reported.

Nineteen companies, including Bank of America Corp. and Microsoft Corp., urged the justices to take up the Wal-Mart appeal. They said the lower-court opinion makes it too easy for workers challenging employment practices to secure class-action status and then extract large settlements.

The lower-court ruling “would dramatically broaden the circumstances where classes can be certified in all types of cases against all types of companies,” Wal-Mart’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and the largest U.S. private employer, is accused in the 9-year-old suit of paying women less than men for the same jobs and giving female workers fewer promotions. Six women are seeking to serve as class representatives.

wellabe brd 090123 300x250