I wanted to share this follow up to the earlier posts on the Dukes et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. case. In case you didn’t see it or haven’t heard about it, this case involves a class action claim by women employees of Wal-Mart who contend that they have been subjected to a nationwide practice of compensation and promotion discrimination. The issue of class certification was argued in front of the United States Supreme Court on March 29, 2011.
That timeline includes the following synopsis of the arguments made on behalf of the women at the oral argument:
– Wal‐Mart’s uniform pay and promotion policies for its retail store employees fail to provide any application or posting process for promotions to store management or job‐related criteria for setting pay or making promotion decisions—standard practices in the American workplace. Instead, Wal‐Mart has chosen to adopt and maintain highly subjective policies, which are implemented, monitored, and enforced on a daily basis by its Home Office to ensure consistency in results.
– Personnel decisions are exercised within a corporate culture that is rife with gender stereotypes demeaning to female employees: Wal‐Mart executives refer to women employees as “Janie Qs,” approve holding business meetings at Hooters restaurants, and attribute the absence of women in top positions to men being more aggressive in seeking advancement. For example, women like named Plaintiff Christine Kwapnoski were told that men need to be paid more than women because “they have families to support.”
– As Wal‐Mart has long recognized, its female workforce has borne the brunt of these subjective policies. Even though its own data shows that its female employees are, on average, better performers and more experienced than their male counterparts, women’s pay lags far behind that of male employees in every major job in each of the company’s 41 regions. Women at Wal‐Mart also face a classic glass ceiling—while women comprise more than 80 percent of hourly supervisors, they hold only one‐third of store management jobs and their ranks steadily diminish at each successive step in the management hierarchy.
The Impact Fund website has links to the several briefs that have been filed on this matter before the Supreme Court – those briefs are kind of dry reading, but extremely instructive and well written. This is legal writing and advocacy at a very high level. There is also a Wal-Mart class action website that contains charts and other pleadings from the case. It now contains biographies of the leading attorneys for the Plaintiff class and of the lead Plaintiffs. With photos.
That timeline shows this case represents some serious tilting at windmills. And it will keep on going for the foreseeable future.