Proposed Wal-Mart Class Can Seek Certification

     (CN) – A federal judge refused to let Wal-Mart appeal its objections to a more narrow class of female employees who want to sue the retailer for sex discrimination as a class.
     In a 2001 federal complaint led by Betty Dukes, a putative class claimed that Wal-Mart Stores received paid women less and offered them fewer promotions than it offered men in comparable positions.
     Though a San Francisco federal judge initially certified a class that would cover estimated 1.5 million women, making it the largest civil rights case in U.S. history, the Supreme Court disbanded that class in 2011 on the basis of lacking commonality. On remand, the plaintiffs filed a fourth amended complaint that seeks to certify a narrower class than that rejected by the high court.
     The Bentonville, Ark.-based company responded with a motion to strike the class allegations. It claims that the statute of limitations bars the claims, and that the newly proposed class still fails to meet the commonality requirement.
     Denying that motion, the Northern District of California set a deadline of Jan. 11, 2013, for the class-certification motion.
     Undeterred, Wal-Mart sought leave to file an interim appeal with the 9th Circuit.
     U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the request “doubles down” on Wal-Mart’s position that the class certification motion “does not deserve to see the light of day.”
     He denied the request Monday “on the grounds that (1) immediate appeal would not, at this time, materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation in light of the impending certification motion, and (2) no substantial grounds for difference of opinion exist regarding the commonality issue.”

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