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[Supreme Court] Wal-Mart v. Dukes discussion

a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
edited June 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
Feral wrote: »
Here, let me help you out.

Copy and paste this into your OP if you want. It's an interesting enough topic.

Slate article explaining the decision: http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/06/20/wal_mart_sex_discrimination_supreme_court_rules_class_action_can.html

In short, here's what happened.

The plaintiffs represent a group of women who claim that they were discriminated against by Wal-Mart. The substance of their claim is that Wal-Mart's corporate culture encourages sexism; furthermore allowing district managers to make hiring decisions allows that sexist culture to manifest locally without it being directly caused by discrimination on a high national level. They seeked to submit a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all women who worked for Wal-Mart.

SCOTUS told the plaintiffs that they could not proceed with a class-action lawsuit, because they could not show that there was a single common illegal practice that united them as a class. In other words, if one woman had suffered sexual harassment in one state, while another woman had suffered reduced pay due to sexist discrimination in another, then while they were both hurt by sexism, the "glue" that united them as a class was not common enough.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I am highly sympathetic to the plaintiffs, however, I am also sympathetic to the notion that to proceed as a class demands that the plaintiffs show a substantive common thread - not merely that they were harmed in a vaguely similar manner by a toxic corporate culture.


Here's the actual SCOTUS opinion document. IANAL, so I don't really know what this all means, but it sounds bad.

a5ehren on

Posts

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    This OP lacks anything to say, and even the article doesn't talk about what the hell happened.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
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  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Henroid wrote: »
    This OP lacks anything to say, and even the article doesn't talk about what the hell happened.

    Yeah I'm working on it.

  • SpacklerSpackler Registered User
    edited June 2011
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13845970

    This might help? Sounds like:
    a) Scalia's a tool
    b) If you have a policy that says "don't discriminate" then you obviously won't
    c) There is a valid point that you need to show harm in order to be part of a class, and I'm not sure how you can manage that in this case (from either side)
    d) This doesn't have anything to do with binding arbitration, which isn't what I expected when I clicked the link.

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yeah I started reading the decision and I figured out that I over-reacted big time. The vote was like 8-0 (at least I could only find 8 names in there) and doesn't seem to be too broadly applicable.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yet again, the Roberts Court fucks over the little guy to protect corporations.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Here, let me help you out.

    Copy and paste this into your OP if you want. It's an interesting enough topic.

    Slate article explaining the decision: http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/06/20/wal_mart_sex_discrimination_supreme_court_rules_class_action_can.html

    In short, here's what happened.

    The plaintiffs represent a group of women who claim that they were discriminated against by Wal-Mart. The substance of their claim is that Wal-Mart's corporate culture encourages sexism; furthermore allowing district managers to make hiring decisions allows that sexist culture to manifest locally without it being directly caused by discrimination on a high national level. They seeked to submit a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all women who worked for Wal-Mart.

    SCOTUS told the plaintiffs that they could not proceed with a class-action lawsuit, because they could not show that there was a single common illegal practice that united them as a class. In other words, if one woman had suffered sexual harassment in one state, while another woman had suffered reduced pay due to sexist discrimination in another, then while they were both hurt by sexism, the "glue" that united them as a class was not common enough.

    I'm not sure how I feel about this. I am highly sympathetic to the plaintiffs, however, I am also sympathetic to the notion that to proceed as a class demands that the plaintiffs show a substantive common thread - not merely that they were harmed in a vaguely similar manner by a toxic corporate culture.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Done. Let's try this again :P

  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Wow. I wonder how much Wal-Mart's stock shot up (no joke).

    14271f3c-c765-4e74-92b1-49d7612675f2.jpg
  • skyknytskyknyt Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2011
    I'm surprised they didn't rely on disparate impact or unintentional discrimination under Title VII, though if they didn't then they probably couldn't, and that would significantly hurt their case.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    skyknyt wrote: »
    I'm surprised they didn't rely on disparate impact or unintentional discrimination under Title VII, though if they didn't then they probably couldn't, and that would significantly hurt their case.

    Title VII was directly addressed by the SCOTUS majority opinion.

    They said that it's not enough to show that the entire class was harmed by aggregate violations of a given law, you have to show that the law was violated in the same way for all members of that class.

    That seems... weird.
    Scalia wrote:
    Commonality requires the plaintiff to dem-onstrate that the class members “have suffered the same injury,” Falcon, supra, at 157. This does not mean merely that they have all suffered a violation of the same pro-vision of law. Title VII, for example, can be violated in many ways—by intentional discrimination, or by hiringand promotion criteria that result in disparate impact, and by the use of these practices on the part of manydifferent superiors in a single company. Quite obviously,the mere claim by employees of the same company that they have suffered a Title VII injury, or even a disparate-impact Title VII injury, gives no cause to believe that alltheir claims can productively be litigated at once.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • skyknytskyknyt Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2011
    Yeah, but you'd think with as widely as they cast their net, they they'd be able to hit the 80% rule.

    Tycho wrote:
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    PSN: skyknyt, Steam: skyknyt
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I too am unsure about this ruling. On its face, I can agree with the majority that there should be a comprehensive (to use Feral's term) "glue" holding a class action together, but on the other hand, the dissent has a valid point in that maybe there needs to be flexibility in determining the extent of the glue. While I haven't read the entire opinion yet I wonder if the case actually determines a bright line rule, or instead just says "Make sure future cases are like X," without specifying what "X" is.

    steam_sig.png
  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Count me in with the guys who see both sides of the issue here.

    I wonder how localized this treatment of the women was though. In my time at Wal-Mart, there was never any lesser treatment of women. In fact, most of the people in the store were women, and the bulk of mid-management was women as well.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
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  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Honestly right now the current Supreme Court would have probably let off Walmart management for gender bias because of their collective giant penises if that's what would have stuck.

    However, the underlying argument is fairly logical - that even if midlevel people were discriminating that there was no overarching systemic link on a corporate level, and that the discriminated could sue individually. Which sounds good on paper, but is one of those things that gets you with fridge logic when you think about it for a while.

    As in "Well, while individual managers allowed toys with lead paint to be produced, there's no overarching corporate policy at mattel to use lead paints, so therefore the company can't be sued in a class action. Sorry guys." I feel like it's not enough to hold these companies to a standard of mere neglect on issues like this, these managers were working for Wal-Mart, and if there was an issue that was occuring there should have been active measures in place to prevent it.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Honestly right now the current Supreme Court would have probably let off Walmart management for gender bias because of their collective giant penises if that's what would have stuck.

    However, the underlying argument is fairly logical - that even if midlevel people were discriminating that there was no overarching systemic link on a corporate level, and that the discriminated could sue individually. Which sounds good on paper, but is one of those things that gets you with fridge logic when you think about it for a while.

    As in "Well, while individual managers allowed toys with lead paint to be produced, there's no overarching corporate policy at mattel to use lead paints, so therefore the company can't be sued in a class action. Sorry guys." I feel like it's not enough to hold these companies to a standard of mere neglect on issues like this, these managers were working for Wal-Mart, and if there was an issue that was occuring there should have been active measures in place to prevent it.
    The problem is that Wal-Mart has been caught doing exactly that in the past to avoid linking upper management to all sorts of bookkeeping nastiness.

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  • TcheldorTcheldor Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    It's important to note that this was an 8-0 decision against the women NOT at 5-4 split.

    There's a majority and dissent trying to figure out how restrictive the commonality requirement is, but the women lost here, period.

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  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    edited June 2011
    Honestly right now the current Supreme Court would have probably let off Walmart management for gender bias because of their collective giant penises if that's what would have stuck.

    However, the underlying argument is fairly logical - that even if midlevel people were discriminating that there was no overarching systemic link on a corporate level, and that the discriminated could sue individually. Which sounds good on paper, but is one of those things that gets you with fridge logic when you think about it for a while.

    As in "Well, while individual managers allowed toys with lead paint to be produced, there's no overarching corporate policy at mattel to use lead paints, so therefore the company can't be sued in a class action. Sorry guys." I feel like it's not enough to hold these companies to a standard of mere neglect on issues like this, these managers were working for Wal-Mart, and if there was an issue that was occuring there should have been active measures in place to prevent it.

    That's not what this case means. The class action in your example is unaffected by this and would be perfectly valid.

    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Tcheldor wrote: »
    It's important to note that this was an 8-0 decision against the women NOT at 5-4 split.

    There's a majority and dissent trying to figure out how restrictive the commonality requirement is, but the women lost here, period.

    And before anyone misunderstands what lost means: they have not lost their discrimination case. That hasn't even gone to trial yet. They have lost in the sense that they didn't get certified to represent all 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees as one discrimination claim class.

  • TcheldorTcheldor Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    yes yes my fault for being too ambiguous. This WAS NOT a trial on the merits of the issue.

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  • DeebaserDeebaser Lead Frog Rammer Fake Board GamerRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Tcheldor wrote: »
    It's important to note that this was an 8-0 decision against the women NOT at 5-4 split.

    There's a majority and dissent trying to figure out how restrictive the commonality requirement is, but the women lost here, period.

    WTF? NYT is reporting it as a 5-4 split...
    :rotate:

  • TcheldorTcheldor Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    there's a split in the opinion because the judges had differing opinions on how to dispose of the case. The liberal justices would have remanded the case for the plaintiffs to try something different to proceed, while the majority wanted to throw the whole thing out.

    The 4 thought that the case didn't have to be dismissed, but it could not go forward using the legal theories they were using.

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  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    It was in fact 9-0. The 5-4 distinction arose because Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan reversed under a different standard so they filed a different opinion. But everyone voted to reverse.

  • TcheldorTcheldor Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I made an early mistake by saying 8-0, I thought one of the justices had recused herself, but that was the EPA case that they also just decided.

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

    is the case. PARTS 1 and 3 are 9-0.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    enc0re wrote: »
    Tcheldor wrote: »
    It's important to note that this was an 8-0 decision against the women NOT at 5-4 split.

    There's a majority and dissent trying to figure out how restrictive the commonality requirement is, but the women lost here, period.

    And before anyone misunderstands what lost means: they have not lost their discrimination case. That hasn't even gone to trial yet. They have lost in the sense that they didn't get certified to represent all 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees as one discrimination claim class.

    Technically, no. In actuality, yes, they have lost.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    enc0re wrote: »
    Tcheldor wrote: »
    It's important to note that this was an 8-0 decision against the women NOT at 5-4 split.

    There's a majority and dissent trying to figure out how restrictive the commonality requirement is, but the women lost here, period.

    And before anyone misunderstands what lost means: they have not lost their discrimination case. That hasn't even gone to trial yet. They have lost in the sense that they didn't get certified to represent all 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees as one discrimination claim class.

    I wonder if smaller groups would be able to file class actions regionally.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If you actually think 1,499,900 of those 1.5 million women would have gotten anything meaningful win or lose from this class action suite you're in la-la land. The lawyers on the other had, would have done quite well.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If you actually think 1,499,900 of those 1.5 million women would have gotten anything meaningful win or lose from this class action suite you're in la-la land. The lawyers on the other had, would have done quite well.

    Eh, the point of these cases isn't merely to provide restitution to the injured, it is also to punish the company and deter future shenanigans.

    I don't think it's beyond the pale to say that it's not enough for a company the size of Wal-Mart to have a lack of overt discrimination; they must actively fight discrimination within their own corporate structure if they want to avoid litigation.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • redxredx East Bumblefuck, PARegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If you actually think 1,499,900 of those 1.5 million women would have gotten anything meaningful win or lose from this class action suite you're in la-la land. The lawyers on the other had, would have done quite well.

    No, none of them would have received shitload of money from the thing, but most of the would probably have liked seeing Walmart hit for a few billion dollars, before punitive damages were awarded. That's the sort of money that can motivate a company to make actual changes.

    All I've got is a snuggle hammer.
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Sure, I really just don't see how you can logically link every single female employee of Walmart as a claimant. Theres almost 3700 stores, each with its own management team, in districts each with their own management team. Claiming that every women working in every one of those stores was a victim of discrimination is an impossible claim to prove.

    Why not just have "Every Minority in Chicago vs the CPD" as a case too? That's actually more narrow than this.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Sure, I really just don't see how you can logically link every single female employee of Walmart as a claimant. Theres almost 3700 stores, each with its own management team, in districts each with their own management team. Claiming that every women working in every one of those stores was a victim of discrimination is an impossible claim to prove.

    Why not just have "Every Minority in Chicago vs the CPD" as a case too? That's actually more narrow than this.

    A really big part of me wants to say "fine, let's blow those doors open. Make people in power take responsibility for the toxic institutional cultures of the organizations they run."

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    Sure, I really just don't see how you can logically link every single female employee of Walmart as a claimant. Theres almost 3700 stores, each with its own management team, in districts each with their own management team. Claiming that every women working in every one of those stores was a victim of discrimination is an impossible claim to prove.

    Why not just have "Every Minority in Chicago vs the CPD" as a case too? That's actually more narrow than this.

    A really big part of me wants to say "fine, let's blow those doors open. Make people in power take responsibility for the toxic institutional cultures of the organizations they run."

    Me too, but I bet what's keeping both of us from saying so is the knowledge that it would result in a legal clusterfuck of epic proportions.

    steam_sig.png
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Sure, I really just don't see how you can logically link every single female employee of Walmart as a claimant. Theres almost 3700 stores, each with its own management team, in districts each with their own management team. Claiming that every women working in every one of those stores was a victim of discrimination is an impossible claim to prove.

    Why not just have "Every Minority in Chicago vs the CPD" as a case too? That's actually more narrow than this.

    A really big part of me wants to say "fine, let's blow those doors open. Make people in power take responsibility for the toxic institutional cultures of the organizations they run."

    Me too, but I bet what's keeping both of us from saying so is the knowledge that it would result in a legal clusterfuck of epic proportions.

    Yep.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Sure, I really just don't see how you can logically link every single female employee of Walmart as a claimant. Theres almost 3700 stores, each with its own management team, in districts each with their own management team. Claiming that every women working in every one of those stores was a victim of discrimination is an impossible claim to prove.

    Why not just have "Every Minority in Chicago vs the CPD" as a case too? That's actually more narrow than this.

    Pretty much agree with this. If there's thousands of different cases without a single cause then you can't have a single lawsuit. They'll all have different evidence, and some may be guilty and some may be innocent.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I have to agree with C&L's take on this - the Supreme Court has made Walmart too big to sue.

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