Friday, January 21, 2011

Fighting It Out In Court: Dukes v. Wal-Mart

A protest in Utah against Wal-MartImage via Wikipedia
AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Supports Gender Discrimination Suit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

WASHINGTON – The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund announced today that it is awarding monetary support to the case Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Lead plaintiff Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart employee, has alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart retail stores. Plaintiffs for the case comprise a class of approximately 1.6 million female Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees.

Case History
In 2001, Dukes and other lead plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in order to further pursue the case as a class action. Wal-Mart appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then to a three-judge panel of the same court, and then to the full en banc court. The class certification was affirmed after all three appeals, and now Wal-Mart is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court affirms the class certification, the case will become the largest civil rights class action suit in the nation’s history.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on December 6, 2010, and oral arguments on the class certification have been set for March 29, 2011.

Why AAUW Supports This Case
“AAUW is proud to lend our support to the lead plaintiffs of this groundbreaking case,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “There is no chance that each of the 1.6 million female employees has the financial resources, time, and patience to pursue her own case against Wal-Mart. AAUW strongly believes that these women’s voices should be heard and that they should be able to stand together to fight for their families’ economic well-being. Class action cases also have a much stronger deterrent effect, showing the business community that discrimination is not good for the bottom line.”

AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund support has been instrumental to the success of many gender discrimination cases during LAF’s 30-year history. Other LAF initiatives include community and campus outreach programs, a resource library and online advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and various research reports.

"Wal-Mart claims this case is too big to bring as a class action, but there is no big company exception to the civil rights laws,” said Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Arcelia Hurtado. “The reality is that without a class action, the women working at Wal-Mart will never have their day in court. The women have been treated unequally as a class, and they should be able to assert their rights as a class."

AAUW’s strategic case support program provides financial and organizational backing for a select number of cases that have the potential to provide significant protection for all women. The funds come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members who support the Legal Advocacy Fund.


This blog is published by the AAUW Kingston, NY Branch. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation's leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since AAUW's founding 130 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW's commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections. 
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