November 21, 2011 Articles

What You Need to Know about Wal-Mart v. Dukes

By Stephen G. Harvey and Angelo A. Stio III

In July 2011, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011). In a highly technical decision, the Court held that “one of the most expansive class actions ever,” consisting of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees, could not be certified as a class action. All nine justices agreed that the class could not recover back pay under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2), which applies only to declaratory and injunctive relief. A five-justice majority led by Justice Scalia went a step further and held that the class could not even meet Rule 23(a)’s requirement that there be “questions of law or fact common to the class.” The Wal-Mart decision is regarded by both supporters and detractors as “momentous.” “Supreme Court Tightens Rules in Class Actions,” New York Times, New York ed. June 20, 2011, at A1.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now