WalMart vs. Class Actions

Originally uploaded by McKinneyLaw.

Corporate America could find it a whole lot easier to fight off employment class actions if Wal-Mart Stores Inc. prevails in a sex discrimination case to be heard soon by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Indeed, a Wal-Mart victory could tilt the playing field for virtually all of these kinds of suits, which have plagued Boeing, Coca-Cola, and dozens of other large employers over the years. Wal-Mart's ambitious legal strategy strikes at the heart of what it means to file a class action. The company maintains that its constitutional rights would be violated if the court allows a suit to go forward involving up to 1.5 million of the retailing giant's current and former female employees. Because such a case would deprive the company of its rights to defend itself against each woman's claim, it argues, the courts should allow suits only on a store-by-store basis. If the Ninth Circuit agrees and strikes down the multistate action certified by a lower court, it would likely kill the largest employment class action in U.S. history. More broadly, it would open wide the door for all large companies to make similar arguments. A victory for Wal-Mart might mean that plaintiffs can't bring nationwide class actions anymore and that they might have to do them locally or regionally. Here is a link to the story.