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Judge rejects class-action claim against Wal-Mart


Bentonville, Ark. -- Judge Charles R. Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled against a request by plaintiffs in a gender discrimination suit against Wal-Mart who were seeking certification of a class-action suit against the mass merchandise giant. Referring to a 2012 Supreme Court decision about limitations on class-action suits, Breyer ruled that the individual situations of the plaintiffs are too different to be grouped into a single class-action suit.

“Plaintiffs’ proposed class suffers from the same problems identified by the Supreme Court, but on a somewhat smaller scale,” Breyer wrote in his decision. “Indeed, it is revealing that there is no particular logic to the precise scope of the class Plaintiffs now propose. They picked three corporate regions covering a smaller area than the rejected national class, but nothing in Plaintiffs’ evidence shows that those three regions are actually different from any other Wal-Mart regions along any relevant dimension. Rather than identify an employment practice and define a class around it, Plaintiffs continue to challenge the discretionary decisions of hundreds of decision makers, while arbitrarily confining their proposed class to corporate regions that include stores in California, among other states.”

This decision is the latest blow against female employees who have been trying to file a gender discrimination suit against Wal-Mart since a compliant was initially filed in 2001. That complaint was later classified as a class-action suit for more than 1 million Wal-Mart employees across the country but was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2011. Plaintiffs have attempted to refile the suit as class-action litigation at state level in several states, with a rejection in Texas in October 2011.

“Walmart has had a strong policy against discrimination in place for many years and we continue to be a great place for women to work and advance,” the retailer said in a press release. “The allegations from these five plaintiffs are not representative of the positive experiences that hundreds of thousands of women have had working at Walmart.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs have not yet commented publicly.

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