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Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in sex bias lawsuit

 
 
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 10:58 am
I'd like to know how each Justice voted. ---BBB

June 20, 2011
Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in sex bias lawsuit
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled a massive class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart goes too far, handing business a major legal victory.

Though divided in some ways, justices unanimously agreed that the sex discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees swept in too many unrelated people. The ruling will constrain future class-action suits as well.

“The mere claim by employees of the same company that they have suffered a (discrimination) injury…gives no cause to believe that all their claims can be productively litigated at once,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.

Individual employees at Wal-Mart stores in Pittsburgh, Calif. and Duarte Calif. had claimed that they were passed over for pay and promotions. They argued that the Wal-Mart “corporate culture” permitted systematic bias against women, and so pressed for what would have been one of the largest class-action lawsuits ever.

“They have little in common but their sex and their lawsuit,” Scalia reasoned, approvingly citing the words of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinsk.

The decision Monday does not end the individual discrimination complaints. Those may still proceed.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/06/20/116114/supreme-court-rules-for-wal-mart.html#storylink=omni_popular#ixzz1Pptwgia7
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 01:31 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
All of the justices voted no the first portion of the ruling.

The second portion of the ruling was a 5/4 vote.

BBB
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 03:57 pm
You can read the full opinion here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-277.pdf

Summaries and analysis here:

http://www.scotusblog.com/2011/06/details-on-todays-opinions-11/

The last opinion for the day was in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, announced for the Court by Justice Scalia. The Court unanimously voted to reverse the Ninth Circuit, holding that the class was not consistent with Rule 23(a) and should not have been certified, and that the respondents’ backpay claims were also improperly certified under Rule 23(b)(2). Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined the opinion as to parts I and III. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined.



http://www.scotusblog.com/2011/06/opinion-analysis-wal-marts-two-messages/

Opinion analysis: Wal-Mart‘s two messages

The Court shuts down a nationwide lawsuit by women claiming rampant sex bias at Wal-Mart discount stores, and makes it harder for groups of workers to ban together to claim workplace discrimination at large companies.

Analysis

For tens of thousands of women who work now, or used to work, for the giant discount retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, the Supreme Court on Monday put out of their reach a nationwide, all-in-one lawsuit over claims of sex bias in the company’s 3,400 stores across the country. Each of those women, it appears, will have to complain on their own to federal officials, or file their own lawsuits.

For large companies in general, the ruling in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, et al. (10-277) offered a second message: the bigger the company, the more varied and decentralized its job practices, the less likely it will have to face a class-action claim. Only workers who have a truly common legal claim may sue as a group, the Court majority made clear — and, even that claim will require rigorous proof that every single worker suffered from exactly the same sort of bias. Sample statistics and anecdotes won’t do, it said.

The Court split 5-4 in shutting down, entirely, a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart that could have affected the legal claims of perhaps as many as 1 million women. The Court’s four most liberal members, including the three women Justices, dissented. The Court also ruled — unanimously — that the women could not bring a claim for backpay, as a remedy for discrimination, under the legal theory their lawyers had used. The ruling was based primarily upon how the Court interpreted a federal court rule — Rule 23. But there were overtones of constitutional protection for companies facing money claims in a class-action case, ensuring that they must be able to mount a full defense in trying to fend off such claims.

The main opinion, controlling both the 5-4 and 9-0 results, was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court’s most dedicated skeptic about the class-action approach to litigation — a method that allows a large group of individuals, whose own claims may not be worth enough to justify a lawsuit, to join forces as “a class” to pursue grievances that all of them share. Almost certainly the most significant part of the new ruling was the stress it put on the Rule 23 demand that all of those in the class must have a “common” legal claim — in a workplace bias case, each must show, up front, that the bias they claim was targeted at each of them.

The claim that the Wal-Mart women made, as Justice Scalia summarized it at one point, is that Wal-Mart’s “corporate culture” institutionalized a bias against female workers “thereby making every women at the company the victim of one common discriminatory practice.” Thus focusing the case on Rule 23′s requirement of “commonality,” the Court decided that the Wal-Mart women’s lawsuit could not meet that standard. They were suing, the opinion said, “about literally millions of employment decisions at once.”

The lawsuit, the Court said further, lacked “some glue holding” its claims together, and that “glue” would be the actual reasons behind each of those decisions. Without that, it added, ” it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims for relief will produce a common answer to the crucial question why was I disfavored.” There is, in this case, too wide a gap between an individual’s workplace bias grievance and the existence of a class of persons suffering exactly the same injury, according to the Court majority.

In order to bridge that gap, Justice Scalia wrote, the Wal-Mart women were obliged to offer “significant proof that Wal-Mart operated under a general policy of discrimination. That is entirely absent here.” Wal-Mart, in fact, has a national policy against sex bias, the opinion noted, and the statistical evidence that the women’s lawyers had offered did not establish that the “corporate culture” implementing that policy translates such a valid policy into illegal discrimination down at the retail store level.

The assessments of alleged bias at the local level, made by the Wal-Mart women’s expert statistician, the Court said, were “worlds away from ‘significant proof’ that Wal-Mart operated under a general policy of discrimination.” And the company’s announced — and enforced — policy against sex bias together with decentralizing actual workplace decisions on pay and promotions “is just the opposite of a uniform employment practice that would provide the commonality needed for a class action; it is a policy against having uniform employment practices. It is also a very common and presumptively reasonable way of doing business.”

While Justice Scalia noted that the Court has allowed workplace bias lawsuits where lower-level supervisors used their discretion to engage in biased practices, falling harder on women or minorities, the existence of that kind of case “does not lead to the conclusion that every employee in a company using a system of discretion has such a claim in common.” The Wal-Mart women, he summed up, “have not identified a common mode of exercising discretion that pervades the entire company.”

The opinion added: “In a company of Wal-Mart’s size and geographical scope, it is quite unbelievable that all managers would exercise their discretion in a common way without some common direction.” The evidence offered “falls well short” of proving that, it said.

The overall problem with this lawsuit, Scalia said, quoting the comment of a lower-court judge in the case, was that the Wal-Mart women “have little in common but their sex and this lawsuit.”

The part of the ruling dealing with the commonality requirement was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented on that facet of the ruling, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

The dissenters argued that the evidence the women’s lawyers had offered “suggests that gender bias suffused Wal-Mart’s company culture.” Their evidence also indicated that the differences in pay and promotions between women and men workers could only be explained by bias, not “neutral variables,” the dissenters added, leaving the clear impression that the dissenters agreed with that assessment.

Repeatedly, the dissenting opinion offered positive reactions to the women’s claims of how the Wal-Mart “corporate culture” actually worked to bolster discretion at the store level, with that discretion exercised predominantly by men influenced by a culture of discrimination.

The part of the ruling that had the support of all of the Justices declared that the section of Rule 23 that permits class-action requests for injunctions or declaratory rulings does not generally allow claims for money payments, such as backpay in a workplace bias case, unless that kind of remedy is merely incidental to the type of court orders that section authorizes.

Because of the Court’s ruling on the “commonality” question, closing the class-action claim against Wal-Mart, this second part of the decision had little practical impact other than clarifying when a class-action lawsuit could pursue a money remedy. The dissenters said they would have left the Wal-Mart women with a further opportunity to try a different section of Rule 23 for their backpay claim, but the majority had scuttled that by ending the class-action case altogether.

The constitutional overtones that seemed to lie behind some of Justice Scalia’s observations about the need to ensure that companies sued in class-action cases get a full opportunity to defend themselves by challenging each class member’s claims may figure in what the Court now does with another class-action case on its docket. That is the case of Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., v. Jackson (docket 10-735). That is a case that turns entirely on constitutional questions — a massive class-action lawsuit against the nation’s major cigarette companies in Louisiana state court that resulted in an award of $270 million to a class of former smokers.

Justice Scalia stayed that ruling last September. The Court has been holding the case until it decided the Wal-Mart case. It now is expected to take action on that case; its options include granting the case, or sending it back to Louisiana courts to consider the impact of the Wal-Mart decision. Since the Wal-Mart decision turns mainly upon the meaning of a federal court rule (Rule 23) that does not apply to class-action lawsuits in state court, it is unclear how much specific guidance state courts could take from Monday’s decision.

The Louisiana case is likely to go before the Justices in a private Conference before they recess for the summer.

Another pending class-action case that the Court seems to have been holding is Beer, et al., v. U.S. (docket 09-1395), involving a claim by seven federal judges that challenged Congress’s block of cost-of-living pay raises for judges on the U.S. bench. That case, too, presumably will be acted upon shortly.


0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 04:12 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:

I'd like to know how each Justice voted. ---BBB

June 20, 2011
Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in sex bias lawsuit
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled a massive class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart goes too far, handing business a major legal victory.

Though divided in some ways, justices unanimously agreed that the sex discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees swept in too many unrelated people. The ruling will constrain future class-action suits as well.

“The mere claim by employees of the same company that they have suffered a (discrimination) injury…gives no cause to believe that all their claims can be productively litigated at once,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.

Individual employees at Wal-Mart stores in Pittsburgh, Calif. and Duarte Calif. had claimed that they were passed over for pay and promotions. They argued that the Wal-Mart “corporate culture” permitted systematic bias against women, and so pressed for what would have been one of the largest class-action lawsuits ever.

“They have little in common but their sex and their lawsuit,” Scalia reasoned, approvingly citing the words of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinsk.

The decision Monday does not end the individual discrimination complaints. Those may still proceed.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/06/20/116114/supreme-court-rules-for-wal-mart.html#storylink=omni_popular#ixzz1Pptwgia7

Official, and legal Class Warfare...
0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 07:17 pm
Once again a bought supreme court delivers to its masters and screws the common man. Lets elect more republicans so they can pass laws that allow the big companies to just kill off anyone that opposes big business like they did in the 1880's up to Teddy.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 07:28 pm
Here's a summary from the SCOTUS blog on the other rulings announced today:

Details on today’s opinions

The Court issued four opinions this morning, including Wal-Mart v. Dukes

This morning the Court issued four decisions. For the complete list of cases for the Term, click here.

The first opinion was in Turner v. Rogers, which was announced by Justice Breyer. By a vote of five-to-four, with a majority composed of the Court’s more liberal members and Justice Kennedy, the Court vacated the decision of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and remanded for further proceedings. The Court first held that although the petitioner has already served his sentence and alleges no collateral consequences will follow from the state’s action against him the case is not moot because it is “capable of repetition” while “evading review.” It then held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause does not automatically require the state to provide counsel at civil contempt proceedings to an indigent noncustodial parent who is subject to a child support order, even if that individual faces incarceration. In this case, however, the petitioner’s incarceration violated due process because he received neither counsel nor the benefit of alternative procedural safeguards that would reduce the risk of an erroneous deprivation of liberty. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Scalia joined in full. Justice Alito and the Chief Justice join as to Parts I-B and II, declining to join Justice Thomas’ discussion of the original meaning of the Constitution.



The second opinion of the day, announced for the Court by Justice Ginsburg, was in American Electric Power v. Connecticut. The Court reversed and remanded to the Second Circuit. The Court first held by an equally divided court that at least one plaintiff existed to file the lawsuit. The Court then held that the Clean Air Act and EPA’s implementation of the Act displace any federal common-law right to seek abatement of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. If EPA does not set emissions limits for a particular pollutant or source of pollution, States and private parties may petition for a rulemaking on the matter, and EPA’s response will be reviewable in federal court. Thus, the Court ruled that the Act itself provides a means to seek limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from domestic power plants—the same relief the plaintiffs seek by invoking federal common law. On the merits of that issue, the decision was unanimous; Justice Alito wrote an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, which Justice Thomas joined. (Sotomayor, J., recused.)



Justice Kennedy announced the opinion for the Court in Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri. By a vote of eight to one, the Court held that a government employer’s allegedly retaliatory actions against an employee do not give rise to liability under the First Amendment’s Petition Clause unless the employee’s petition relates to a matter of public concern. The Court vacated and remanded the case to the Third Circuit. Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part; he would not have held that the Petition Clause contains a “public importance” requirement but would have held that the Clause does not extend to petitions directed to the government as the petitioner’s employer.

0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 07:31 pm
And here are summaries of 3 other cases the court announced it has accepted for consideration today. Check the SCOTUS blog for links to court docs on each.

http://www.scotusblog.com/2011/06/details-on-todays-order-list-3/

The Court granted four new cases and called for the views of the Solicitor General in one case.

The Court has granted four new cases today: PPL Montana v. Montana (limited to question one); First American Financial v. Edwards (limited to question two); Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories; and FAA v. Cooper (Justice Kagan recused; case page forthcoming). The briefs in the first three granted cases are below.

The Court also called for the views of the Solicitor General in Countrywide Home Loans v. Rodriquez (case page forthcoming). Countrywide presents the question whether the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay takes precedence over the mortgage lender’s right under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act to require a borrower to deposit additional funds into an escrow account after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy when the funds are needed to cover other obligations. The full order list is available here. Our latest Stat Pack has more details on the pace of grants this Term.

Title: First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards (Granted )
Docket: 10-708
Issue(s): Whether a private purchaser of real estate settlement services has standing to sue under Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution.

Title: PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana (Granted )
Docket: 10-218
Issue(s): Whether the constitutional test for determining whether a section of a river is navigable for title purposes requires a trial court to determine, based on evidence, whether the relevant stretch of the river was navigable at the time the state joined the Union.

Title: Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (Granted )
Docket: 10-1150
Issue(s): Whether 35 U.S.C. § 101 is satisfied by a patent claim that covers observed correlations between blood test results and patient health, so that the claim effectively preempts all uses of the naturally occurring correlations, simply because well-known methods used to administer prescription drugs and test blood may involve “transformations” of body chemistry.

0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jun, 2011 05:47 am
@RABEL222,
RABEL222 wrote:

Once again a bought supreme court delivers to its masters and screws the common man. Lets elect more republicans so they can pass laws that allow the big companies to just kill off anyone that opposes big business like they did in the 1880's up to Teddy.
Just remember that slavery was winning in the court right up to the Cvil War... They are reactionary.... If you want to injury somebody, they may stop you; but if you want to injure everybody they will help you...
0 Replies
 
 

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