September 25, 2012—San Francisco, CA—The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Supreme Court delivered bad news to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., when it ruled that an 11-year-old gender discrimination lawsuit would not be dismissed as the company requested.
Wal-Mart had moved to have the lawsuit dismissed after the U. S. Supreme Court barred employees nationwide from suing the company for gender discrimination. However, a San Francisco judge ruled that the plaintiffs can reduce the class size and the case will be refiled and reheard at a later time.
How Can A State Supreme Court Judge Rule Against the U.S. Supreme Court?
Employment law cases can become very complicated when the issues of jurisdiction come into play. While the U. S. Supreme Court is called the “court of highest jurisdiction,” the fact is that the Supreme Court of the United States hears cases relatively rarely and can refuse to hear any case it so chooses. Even when it does hear cases, the court is free to return them to the states with instructions that may affect the way the states handle these topics.
In this particular case, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit is barred from including members nationwide into a class but did not necessarily bar the states from hearing individual or state-specific actions. Therefore, the state Supreme Court judge was within his rights to allow California Wal-Mart employees to file their action at the state level.
What Is A Class Action and How Will It Affect These Employees?
When an employee files against a company on a charge of discrimination, the employee has the option of filing an individual lawsuit specifying only the things that have been done to him or her. However, it bolsters the employee’s case and helps others if a class action can be filed. A class action includes all people who have suffered similar discrimination.
However, there are drawbacks to class action suits, as well. For one thing, some people may be excluded from the class due to individual idiosyncrasies in their cases. For another, the amount of damages per plaintiff that are awarded in a class action suit can be less than if the person filed individually. Of course, the costs of the case per plaintiff are much less, as well, because one group of employment lawyers usually handles hundreds or even thousands of plaintiff’s cases in an effective and streamlined manner.