On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the case involving Betty Dukes and a host of other plaintiffs and Wal-Mart as to whether the Court “should allow certification of the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. history, a long-standing dispute against mega-corporation Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over alleged gender bias in pay and promotions.” [….]
Dukes v. Walmart is shaping up to be another David and Goliath moment similar to the Erin Brockovich-Ellis story. Brockovich, despite a lack of law school education, successfully assisted in putting together a case involving the impact of asbestos exposure on residents against Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California 1993.
If the Dukes case class-action is certified, “hundreds of thousands of women – perhaps as many as 1.6 million plaintiffs – could join in the largest discrimination claim of its kind. Tens of billions of dollars or more in damages are potentially at stake.”
The guts of this lawsuit is that when it was first initiated in 2001, “65 percent of Wal-Mart’s 1 million hourly employees were women, women held fewer than one-third of management jobs and only 15 percent of store manager positions, making Wal-Mart one of the worst American retailers in terms of percentage of women in management.” [….]
We’ve seen the commercials featuring women and minorities touting the advantages of working at Wal-Mart. But are these commercials featuring normal business practices or a few isolated instances in an effort to make the company seem to have addressed the error of its ways? The Court will soon decide.
This case is import to every woman in this country. It is even more important with recent attacks on women’s rights through an attempt to legislate our privacy and, our ability to effectively address assailants when physically attacked.
Arcelia Hurtado (executive director of Equal Rights Advocates) is one of the lawyers in this case and represents Betty Dukes and the plaintiffs. Her stated purpose of this case is clear:
The case also stands for the right of every working woman to be paid what her work is worth and to be given an equal opportunity to advance based on her merit. It implicates the American dream that if you work hard enough, you can get ahead. It implicates the fate of the working class in this country — women who have families to support, who are single mothers, who are struggling to make ends meet and failing due to systematic discrimination that is unfortunately not a relic of the past yet. [....]