[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Image of gavel used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Joe Gratz"][/caption] Today, the US Supreme Court released its decision on the landmark class-action gender discrimination case against WalMart. Ten years ago, 6 women brought a discrimination case against WalMart, alleging that the company had systematically denied them promotions and wage increases based on prejudice against their gender. Thousands more joined the lawsuit once they discovered that someone was bringing a case against treatment that resembled what they had received. Unfortunately, the corporate majority on the Supreme Court dismissed the case, not only barring the women from filing the lawsuit as a major class-action case, but also making it more difficult in the future for any large group of people aggrieved by a massive corporation from gaining restitution. Class action lawsuits make it easier for people harmed by a large corporation, often by employment practices like racial or gender discrimination, to pool enough resources to stand a chance against a well-heeled team of corporate lawyers. Unbelievably, the 5-4 majority decided that the women, who provided a vast array of statistical and anecdotal information to support the case that they were discriminated against precisely because they were women, could not be considered a "class" for the purposes of bundling their lawsuits together into a single case. Now WalMart and large corporations will have a much easier time dissuading and discouraging lawsuits, whatever their merit, because of the high bar set against people joining together to press a legal case. Tomorrow, June 21, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the National Organization of Women and the National Women's Law Center, outraged by WalMart's well-documented poor treatment of women, are sponsoring rallies in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. If you are in the vicinity of any of those rallies, you are encouraged to show your support. The Supreme Court did not rule whether or not Walmart discriminated against any of the women who joined the case, merely that they lacked the ability to join the class action lawsuit. The women who originally filed the lawsuit plan to continue their battle in court for fair treatment.
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