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California workers continue pursuing Walmart discrimination claims

A California Walmart employee is continuing to pursue gender discrimination claims against one of the nation's largest employers, despite a recent setback at the United States Supreme Court.

According to the lawsuit, Walmart's policies as enacted by regional managers prevented women from being promoted or being paid equally to their male coworkers.

The original claim was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2011 when the justices said that the employee's claims were too broad and did not have enough in common to be considered a class for class action purposes.

Oddly, even though class action lawsuits are designed to consolidate similar, sometimes smaller claims into one efficient lawsuit, the previous group of employees trying to sue as one group was considered to be too large and unwieldy by the court.

The new case organizes claims by region, with claims in five different states. The lawsuit that is currently pending in California is the spin-off case that resulted from the 2011 Supreme Court decision, so it will be the first to have its class action certification granted or denied.

In order to be successful, the workers have to show that the region of Walmart employees who are potential members of the class experienced the same or very similar discrimination by managers.

Among the evidence that the lead plaintiff in this case has introduced is testimony from a statistician showing the lower rates of promotions for female employees compared with rates in "nondiscriminatory" systems. The employees in this case certainly face a tough task in seeking justice from a powerful corporation with significant political power. If they are successful they will hopefully receive fair treatment themselves and guarantee that future employees do not face discrimination at Walmart.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Wal-Mart plaintiffs, in second try, hope to distinguish case," Carlyn Kolker, April 17, 2013

Information about gender discrimination claims in California can be found on our website.

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