Obama To “Review” Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart Decision & Further Agitate Employers.
Building upon the the Obama administrations proxy war (through the NLRB) with Boeing it is being reported that the White House is reviewing….er pissed about today’s Supreme Court decision tossing a very broad gender-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Jay Carney said White House lawyers were “studying the decision to determine its impact”, and that “ending pay discrimination in the workplace is a key priority of the president.” The core issue is that the supreme court ruled that the 1.6 million women who were the alleged victims of discrimination had too little in common to form a single class of plaintiffs. The reality is that the ruling is solid. One million six hundred thousand people, irrespective of sex, age, race, whatever are not going to have a common ground that is narrow and singularly sufficient for a class action suit. Sure, Wal-Mart may have discriminated but how can anyone wrap up those 1.6 million (at a minimum) employment/compensation decisions in one suit? Discrimination can’t be proved by statistics, which is what the plaintiff’s attorneys essentially argued. Not enough hard individual evidence.
Today the court split 5-4 with Justice Scalia’s majority opinion concluding that the allegations against Wal-Mart were too vague and the evidence too weak to find that the plaintiffs had enough in common to pool all of their claims into one case. The class would have included all of the women employed since 1998 across some 3,400 stores.
It is important to remember the first bill Obama signed into law is one that extends the statute of limitations for claiming pay discrimination. Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear based on wage discrimination and lost as the Supreme Court ruled she failed to file her case in a timely manner. Hmm. Wal-Mart won convincingly. There may be an effort to break the 1.6 million plaintiffs into smaller, more narrow, and common groups, but the payoff for the lawyers will not be nearly as great….if they take it. The bigger issue is what retaliatory measures will be taken against big business?