In what is sure to give Wal-Mart a large sigh of relief, the United States Supreme Court yesterday overturned the Ninth Circuit's decision to grant class certification to nearly 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees in the matter of Dukes et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 10-277 (June 20, 2011). The lawsuit, filed on behalf of current and former Wal-Mart employees, alleges generally that local Wal-Mart managers disproportionately favor men through the exercise of their discretion over pay and promotions, which has an unlawful disparate impact on female employees. Plaintiffs further allege that Wal-Mart refuses to limit the amount of discretion given to managers, resulting in disparate treatment.
In the Supreme Court's decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held class certification improper on two significant grounds.