Monday, March 28, 2011

Wal-Mart Gender Discrimination case - My Comments in 2003

As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this case.

At issue is whether the justices 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. Arguments in the case are Tuesday morning and ruling can be expected by late June.

My Comments to various media outlets in 2003 and 2004:

USA Today:
"The potential damages are huge," says Perry Binder, a legal studies professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "Other businesses will watch this very closely."

The Associated Press:

Perry Binder, an assistant professor of legal studies at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said the judge's ruling will be critical for both sides.

"Any time a class gets certified, there is power in unity. Any time a class-action suit is not certified, then you have to have individual plaintiffs filing individual lawsuits," Binder said.

"This is the biggest leverage point -- which party's got the leverage is the biggest (aspect) of a lawsuit," he said.

The plaintiffs describe several examples of discrimination, including a required meeting for female managers that was held at a strip club. Another meeting allegedly occurred at a Hooters restaurant, which is known for scantily clad female servers.

"The key is whether there is a systematic, across-the-company level of gender discrimination," Binder said. "What the plaintiffs have to prove is that this truly is a (men's) club."...

Binder said the plaintiffs have to come up with "smoking gun documents."

"The key for the plaintiffs is to find documents that link Wal-Mart to nationwide discrimination," Binder said, making it clear he doesn't know whether such documents exist.

Binder said the plaintiffs have to subpoena electronic archives of internal e-mails, computer files, instant messages and the like.

"This is going to be a very costly proposition. This is what litigation is in the 21st century -- searching computer banks for so-called deleted e-mails," Binder said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Published on: 06/23/04
"Prior to [Tuesday's] rulings, Wal-Mart had zero incentive to settle this case," said Perry Binder, legal studies professor at Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business. "However, now the plaintiffs can fight on a unified front and have leverage to force the issue."...

Already the case has generated more than 200 depositions and a million pages of documents. One expert estimated if the case went to trial, damages could soar into the billions of dollars.

"If there was a settlement, it likely could dwarf the settlement in the Home Depot case," Binder said of the 1997 sex discrimination suit in which the Atlanta-based home improvement chain paid $104 million, without admitting wrongdoing, to 25,000 female employees.

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1 comment:

  1. It will be very interesting to see if this case is okayed by the supreme court. On one hand, the women have a valid point that goes along with civil rights. On the other, so does Wal-Mart in saying that such a small group could not possibly have a voice for over a million women across the country.


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