Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Nix Massive Sex Bias Lawsuit

August 25, 2010

The world’s largest retailer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a mammoth sex-discrimination case brought by its women workers, according to a Wednesday court filing.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is appealing an April ruling that authorized the class action, which could include more than 1 million women. Wal-Mart allegedly practiced widespread discrimination in its pay and promotion practices.

A divided 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had allowed the lawsuit to proceed, saying mere size should not be a reason for dismissing the case. The litigation could involve billions of dollars in damages and has been described as the largest sex-discrimination class action.

“It is important to remember that the 9th Circuit’s opinion dealt only with class certification, not with the merits of the lawsuit,” the company said in a statement.

“Wal-Mart is an excellent place for women to work and has been recognized as a leader in fostering the advancement and success of women in the workplace,” the statement said.

Lawyer Brad Seligman, who is representing the women, said Wal-Mart’s appeal was an attempt to deny his clients their day in court.

“The ruling upholding the class in this case is well within the mainstream that courts at all levels have recognized for decades,” he said. “Only the size of the case is unusual, and that is a product of Wal-Mart’s size and the breadth of the discrimination we documented.”

The case is: Dukes v Walmart in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 04-16688

Wal-Mart shares were at $51.43, up 0.25 percent, in mid-afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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