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Monday, August 29, 2011

Strategic CSR - Walmart (I)

In case you missed it over the summer, the article in the url below reports the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Walmart discrimination case that the firm has been fighting for the past decade:

The Supreme Court on Monday threw out an enormous employment discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart that had sought billions of dollars on behalf of as many as 1.5 million female workers. The suit claimed that Wal-Mart’s policies and practices had led to countless discriminatory decisions over pay and promotions.

While not deciding the merits of the case (i.e., whether Walmart actually discriminated against some of its female employees in terms of equal pay and promotion opportunities), the Court decided that the case cannot proceed as a class action. Essentially, this means that, in the eyes of the Court, there was insufficient evidence that Walmart had pursued a systematic policy of discrimination, centrally coordinated.

Walmart’s defense against the class-action was that, because it devolved most hiring and promotion decisions to the local store manager, although individual instances of discrimination may have occurred, they were not a result of the firm’s policies and practices.

Additional background to the case and its possible implications (both for Walmart and for the possibility of future class-actions being brought against all firms) appeared in two additional stories in the paper on the same day: