Employment attorneys don’t expect the U.S. Supreme Court to approve (they hope!) the 1.5 million member class-action certification for the lawsuit against Wal-Mart (which was argued recently), but they fear the court will issue an opinion that will not be a complete rejection of the claim.
“If it’s a complete revocation, it’s ‘no harm, no foul.’ If it’s somewhere in between, it could have a big effect on Title VII and for large employers, it’s going to change how they operate,” said David Sherwyn, associate professor of law at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, who moderated a session on “Hot Topics in Labor and Employment Law” at the HR in Hospitality Conference today.
If a decentralized pay and promotion program, such as was in effect at Wal-Mart, can be cited in a class-action suit, then what can’t? he asked.
Leslie Silverman, a partner with Proskauer in Washington, who used to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said “there’s just not a lot of ‘there’ there” in the lawsuit, noting some stores — and even some entire states — were not mentioned in charges filed by the plaintiffs.
She also noted it was impossible to opt-out of the lawsuit; all women were required participants.
“If this is the trend of how little it takes to get where we are, it’s a disaster [for companies],” Silverman said.
The decision is expected to be issued in June.