“Sex discrimination? Where? Wal-Mart? Where?”—Justice Antonin Scalia

The supreme court’s free pass on sexism for Walmart
The Roberts court decision to block the class action lawsuit for sex discrimination effectively defines Walmart as ‘too big to sue’
Laura Flanders, Tuesday 21 June 2011 17.00 BST

Betty Dukes, the original Walmart plaintiff, speaking to the press in March 2011; on 20 June, the US supreme court ruled out the class action sex discrimination lawsuit against the company on behalf of women workers at Walmart. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

Let’s get this right: the world’s biggest boss, supported by companies as diverse as Altria, Bank of America, Microsoft and General Electric and backed up by the godfather of big business (the US Chamber of Commerce) has persuaded the US supreme court that thousands of women workers can’t possibly share enough of an interest to constitute a class?

It’s hard to know which part of the court’s decision in Dukes v Walmart hurts equity most: the assault on class-action jurisprudence generally, at a time of shrinking tools for workers seeking redress, or the defeat of history’s biggest gender-based claim before a court that, for the first time, includes two women, one of whom (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) made her reputation in sex discrimination law.

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