- What did the Supreme Court decide in the Wal-Mart case? And more importantly, how did it justify its decision? (HINT: the key word here is “commonality” (and how it related to “class-action lawsuit”). Try to understand what this legal terms means, as it is key to the court’s decision).
In Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the class-action case brought forward by 1.5 million women against Wal-Mart. Scalia wrote the majority opinion, justifying this decision by claiming that the case lacked commonality in that each individual woman was harmed in different ways, and the solutions wouldn’t address the harm in equal or appropriately portioned ways, and so this case couldn’t be tried as class-action. This is interesting because there was enough evidence to find discriminatory practices in hiring, promotion, and explicit misogyny at work, however, the unification of the group over a variety of experiences made it possible to rule it as not a legitimate case. This ruling also acknowledges discrimination as a possibility, but notes that because it is against policy, it does not legitimately exist.