The US supreme court has rejected the biggest sex discrimination case in history, ruling it was too large to bring to trial.
The massive gender bias case against retail giant Walmart claimed that 1.6 million of the firm’s current and former employees were subject to discrimination. The suit began nearly 10 years ago when it was originally filed on behalf of employee Betty Dukes and five of her co-workers. The women claimed they had been passed over for promotions and paid less than male employees.
The plaintiffs had provided statistical evidence that women earned less money and were promoted less often across the company. But Walmart argued there was no discrimination at the firm. Its lawyers argued that a class action representing women from across the country would imply a uniform policy of discrimination, but as individual managers made hiring and promoting decisions independently there was no class-action case to answer.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the court’s conservative majority sided with Walmart. He said there needed to be common elements tying together “literally millions of employment decisions at once”. He said that such a common element was “entirely absent here”.
CLARIFICATION: Part of the ruling was unanimous, and the other part was a 5-4 ruling. I am not a lawyer type, and someone else will have to make a distinction between the two parts of the ruling.
I’m tired of statistics being used to “prove” discrimination. One of my favorite “sex discrimination” examples comes from Berkeley– in aggregate, it looked like women were being discriminated against in grad school admissions, but when you went down to the level where the decisions were made (the individual departments), the stats showed women were doing pretty well compared to men or at least on a par… it was that the individual choices of the women had dominated the aggregate results. The women tended to apply to departments that had higher rejection rates compared to the men.
Anyway, I’m expecting more tort lawyer stupidity, because they’ve been having a hell of a time coming up with revenues the past several years. And now another loss. Boo hoo.