Remember that gigantic class action the Supreme Court threw out against Wal-Mart? In that case, three named plaintiffs sought to sue the giant retailer for sex discrimination in pay and promotions, on behalf of more than a million female employees nationwide. As I noted in an earlier post, the Supreme Court tossed the case, finding that there was no commonality among the proposed class. The court pointed out that the pay and promotion decisions the women complained of were made by different managers nationwide, among other things. Although the women claimed that they had the common experience of facing discrimination because Wal-Mart gave its managers unfettered discretion to make pay and promotion decisions with a corporate culture that relied heavily on gender-based stereotypes, the Court didn’t buy it.
Yesterday, the employees’ lawyers rebooted, with what they’ve called “Wal-Mart 2.0.” They filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of California employees only — an estimated 90,000 of them — once again alleging sex discrimination in pay and promotions. According to the plaintiffs’ press release, the revised complaint relies on new statistical evidence showing pay disparities between male and female employees in comparable positions, even though the women tend to have more seniority and better performance evaluations. The complaint also alleges biased statements by decision makers and statistical evidence of bias in promotions, among other things. (You can check out the press release and the complaint; the plaintiffs’ website provides lots more information on the case.)
The lawyers for the employees have promised that this is the first in an “armada” of state and regional lawsuits to be filed against Wal-Mart in the coming months, designed specifically to meet the Supreme Court’s objections that the original nationwide class had experiences that were too diverse to join in a single lawsuit.