Discussion Board 12.1

These questions are based on the “Sex Class Action” article:

  1. 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).

Discussion board 12.1 – Alexa Balbi

The supreme court decision on the Wal-Mart case was unfair and brutal because many evidence was shown of how sexism and favoritism amongs the gender occurred at the work place. Men were getting paid way more than women and their work was more recognized and rated higher than they would with a women. To them Men were more stronger and hard workers although having the same job as a women. The ruling of the case seems to discriminate women no matter what the issues is specially if no required rules to the court were applied for the case.

D.B 12.1 – Justine Lazdina

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).

  • The Supreme Court decided in the Wal-Mart case to rule against the plaintiffs.
  • The type of relief that classes can seek, in class action lawsuits, falls under Rule 23 of Civil Procedure. The class action lawsuits where the plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief (injunctions restrain a party from doing certain acts and requires them to act a certain way, and declarations state the rights of a party without any action or award for damages required) fall under b(2), and ones where the plaintiff seeks monetary relief fall under b(3). Since Dukes vs Wal-Mart was a civil rights case and was filed under b(2) and not b(3), the court ruled against their demand for backpay.
  • This decision against the plaintiff was further justified by questioning if women can justify their gender as a class and prove the “commonality” of their group, as required by Rule 23’s commonality requirement. Anthony Scalia, one of the Supreme Court judges that ruled against the plaintiff, argued that for the plaintiff to be able to claim commonality they need to share a common problem AND a common solution. Since these women were not discriminated by Wal-Mart in the same exact way, they were not considered to have the same problem, and therefore it would be illegitimate to provide them with the same solution, i.e., a large sum payment that would compensate all members equally. He stated, due to there being no “glue” to hold the reasons for these women’s unfavorable experiences together -as in there might have been different reasons as to why they were discriminated against as individuals- there can be no ruling that will produce the same answer for all.
  • This ruling tells us that women are not considered a class of their own, they are not a minority group therefore their experiences can differ too greatly to be considered an oppressed class. In other words, an individual woman cannot be discriminated against for her gender, but women as a group -as per this ruling- can.

Zhongquan

Supreme Court in the Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart case decides that Wal- Mart won. The majority of the Supreme Court held that a small group of women did not represent all women and that the plaintiffs did not have sufficient “commonality”. They argued that “commonality” requires not only a common problem but also a common solution and equal compensation for all members.  Therefore, this case does not meet the common requirements of Rule 23 of Civil Procedure(“questions of law or fact.” ) In addition, on the issue of “the matter of classification vis-à-vis back pay” ruling. Class actions fall under Rule 23 of Civil Procedure, which specifies, among other things, what kinds of relief classes can seek. In general, classes seeking injunctive or declaratory relief file as a “b(2)” class. whereas classes seeking monetary relief file as a “b(3)” class. As a civil rights case suing under Title VII, this case was squarely b(2). But the court ruled that women’s additional claims for the unpaid wages-the equivalent of millions, if not billions, of dollars in withheld wages for women nationwide-could only fall under ab(3) claims. This misclassification is enough to undermine women’s class status. Therefore, the Supreme Court decided that Wal-Mart won in the case.

12.1

  1. 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 term means, as it is key to the court’s decision).

In the Wal-Mart case lawsuit against Walmart, the Supreme Court determined that a group of about 1.5 million women could not be recognized as a viable class of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit for worker discrimination against Walmart. The Supreme Court decided to take Walmart’s side even though the evidence showed how “Wal-Mart paid its male employees more than its female employees in every one of the store’s forty-one retail regions.” And how men and their performance were rated higher. These facts stated in the article clearly showed how these women were being discriminated against.

Ignacio Salas on gender biased abuse and Wal-Mart

1. The supreme court evaluated the complete case and ruled against the 1.5 million plaintiffs. First, they ruled unanimously against the matter of classification to get a back pay. The court stated that class actions fall under Rule 23 of civil procedure, which specifies what kind of reliefs classes can seek, Dukes’ case filed under a “b2” class -looking for injunctive or declaratory relief-, but the judges considered them as a “b3”-mostly used in consumer class actions- due to the amount of money that Wal-Mart must have been forced to pay in withheld wages to women across the country, that would have reached millions of dollars. Second, in a 5-4 decision the court ruled against the case again, because they failed to meet Rule 23’s commonality requirement, in addition, Antonin Scalia mentioned that to claim “commonality” as a class, all the women in the law suit must not only have shared a common problem but also a common solution to that problem, so all members could be compensated equally, however, as all the women from the lawsuit didn’t suffer from the same gender biased problems, there was no commonality to act for. Antonin Scalia, with his choice of words said that all the allegations were different problems tried to be glued together to form a class law suit that big, but, at the end what he oversaw was that, all these abuses in fact fell into the same gender biased decisions from the Wal-Mart work culture.

Supreme Court and “commonality”

  1. 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.

Commonality or Technicality ?

  1. What did the Supreme Court decide in the Wal-Mart case? And more importantly, how did it justify its decision?

The Supreme Court ruled in Wal-Mart’s favor. The Court justified their ruling based on the principle of commonality. In other words, commonality refers to the relationship of common facts and legal issues among class members. This feature is required when a group of people is looking to be certified for class-action lawsuit. Moreover, a class-action lawsuit is a type of lawsuit where cases are combined to represent a “collective body that could speak its members’ grievances more powerfully than any one of them could individually”. However, these same law tools were the ones that did not allow these women to win the case. This case was very big, the plaintiffs were representing 1.5 million women, which made it difficult to fill in the requirements for the principle of commonality. The question was: could somebody represent so many people?. In addition, the plaintiffs were seeking for both “injunctive relief” (a court ordered mandate that forces institutions to resolve a systemic issue) and for a payback. 

Initially, when the case was filed, it was misplaced under a class that it did not belong to. Thus, the Supreme Court was able to argue that this misclassification compromised the women’s class status. Then, they would have to look even broader back and judge their principle of commonality. Later, when they did so they ruled again in Wal-mart’s favor. For the Court, a commonality requirement is that there be “questions of law or fact” common to the class” and that “to claim commonality a class must not only share a common problem, but also a common solution to that problem”. Hence, Because the 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees were not all denied the same promotion, the same pay raise, or insulted, belittled, or obstructed by the same manager in the same store, their cases could not legitimately be litigated all at once. In short, the case was denied based on several technicalities.

Nikita Vasilyev – D.B. 12.1

  1. In a split 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs on the grounds of “commonality” which, in the Supreme Court’s opinion was lacking for a million and a half of women who wanted to sue Wal-Mart based on gender oppression and pay discrimination. Since the enormous scale of Dukes v. Wal-Mart had a stake in issues beyond Wal-Mart’s employment practices, the Supreme Court decision could affect the political and social life, not to mention the trial of an entire culture of sexism which influenced many decisions across the company. A crucial episode in the ruling was the misclassification of the case by the Supreme Court, which saw women’s additional demand for pay as belonging to a b(3) claim, opposed to a b(2) claim that would allow the plaintiffs to seek injunctive or declaratory relief. Many questions could be raised: for example, how could Justice Scalia refer to Wal-Mart corporate literature and be sure, in front of a 1,5 million women, that no discrimination could occur if the corporate policy forbade it? By making “commonality” central to their ruling, the Supreme Court decided that the women failed to meet the requirement for Rule 23, since there appeared to be no common solution to solve the common problem in one stroke. Because of situational differences there was “no glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together”, therefore the individual cases of women could not be litigated all at once.

Jasmin Amigon-Discussion post

  1. 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 the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case, the Supreme Court ruled that a group of women could not be certified as a valid class of plaintiffs to sue against a class-action lawsuit against Walmart. The Court’s ruling justified its decision by making commonality a challenge for the plaintiff to win the case. In this case, the plaintiff (Dukes) failed to meet Rule 23’s commonality requirement which includes the class must be so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, there must be questions of law or fact common to the class, typicality, and adequacy of representation. The commonality is related to a “class-action lawsuit” because for a class action to proceed, litigants must first meet Rule 23’s requirements.

DB 12.1/Gender Inequality

  1. Due to the 1.5 million women’s cases all being slightly different, they were not eligible for trial in court. Because of Rule 23’s commonality requirement, all participants in a class-action suit would need to share similar accounts as far as similar pay discrimination, inappropriate encounters with same manager or Walmart location. This would help the court see that the trial could result in a “common solution.” According to the reading a class-action case could not move forward “without some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together.” This class-action suit was not uniform enough for a common ruling.