Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Supreme Court Decision In Wal-Mart V. Dukes

The Supreme Court today issued an opinion in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees.  At issue was whether the corporation discriminated against its female employees in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

“The aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision today in Wal-Mart v. Dukes that involved a deep division is most troublesome, and undercuts the ability of this class of female employees to even get through the courthouse door to have their common issue considered.  While the justices agreed on one issue about the availability of a particular remedy, they were divided on whether the employer’s treatment of its female employees was sufficiently similar for them to be considered a class.  As a result, five justices have again decided to make it more difficult to hold corporations accountable under our historic civil rights laws. 

“This is not an isolated case.  It is the latest in a series of cases the Judiciary Committee has considered over the last four years.  Whether it is Lilly Ledbetter suing her employer for gender discrimination, or a group of consumers suing their phone company for deceptive practices, an activist majority of the Supreme Court is making it more and more difficult for Americans to have their day in court. 

“Over the past two years, the American people have grown frustrated with the notion that some corporations are too big to fail.  Today’s decision will undoubtedly make some wonder whether the Supreme Court has now decided that some corporations are too big to be held accountable.  Discrimination in the workplace continues, and we need to make sure that all Americans are treated fairly, especially in these challenging economic times.”

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