Friday, December 31

Alex And A Class Action

Alex over-nights to each's amusement.

Moe and I discuss the class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, the largest civil rights class-action in US history with 2 million plaintiffs and counting. The charge against Wal-Mart brought by Moe's friend Bud Seligmen who once worked for Guy (Bud is my age). Bud suggests that Wal-Mart has discriminated against women in promotions, pay, and job assignments in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Moe explains (Recall, Dear Reader, my father a labor lawyer). Everybody agrees, including Wal-Mart, that the representative case around which the class is built, is, without doubt, sexism. Heavy statistics back up the allegations. Unusually, following ten-years of back and forth trending against Wal-Mart, the case is with the Supreme Court who will decide if the the class action may proceed or broken into smaller regional grievances.

The Supreme Court unusual as a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the court's class certification (a Big Deal in these case) - Wal-Mart filed a rehearing and a rehearing en bank ("by the full court" or "full bench" - in the Ninth Court's case, an 11 judge subset), contending that the majority committed legal error with regard to whether the grounds for class action certification had been met. The 9th Circuit then withdraw its initial rendering and "beefed up the case" while still supporting the class-action. In April, 2010, the en banc court affirmed the district court's class certification on a 6-5 vote. Wal-Mart's lead appellate counsel, Theodore Boutros, Jr., fumed "it violates both due process and federal class action rules, contradicting numerous decisions of other federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court itself," and indicated that Wal-Mart would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ted has and now the Supremes to decide. Not surprisingly, conservative commentators have criticized the lawsuit as an abuse of the class action mechanism.

Bud notes to Moe that if the Supreme Court rules against the class certification, his case goes from two million women to six.