Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Refuse to let Supreme Court Ruling be a Corporate Victory.

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling against female workers at Wal-mart in Walmart Stores Inc. v Dukes. The workers had tried to bring a class action suit saying that nationwide, women had faced discrimination and been denied promotions on the basis of gender, a fact that they attributed to a discriminatory corporate culture on a national level, stating that a sexist corporate culture nationwide made equality impossible. Such discrimination was evidenced by demeaning terms towards female employees, regular comments that female workers didn't have serious career ambitions, and statements that women were less fit for certain types of work.

Had they succeeded, Wal-mart would have had to pay billions in back wages and drastically change its sexist atmosphere. However, the Court found that the group of women was in fact too large to file a joint suit; because the discrimination all took place at a regional level, the women are not able to join forces nationwide to challenge Wal-mart together on a national level.

Though disappointing, this is by no means a victory for Wal-mart. The Supreme Court said that the women did not qualify as one class. This does not mean that Wal-mart was innocent on the issue of violating women's constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. The inability to file a class action lawsuit may be a setback, but we cannot let it destroy the workers' cases. The road ahead may be more difficult, but that will not deter us from the fight for justice.

Here's what needs to happen next: Wal-mart must change its corporate policy to ensure that no regional authorities can pay women lower salaries or deny them promotions, and they must reform their attitude towards women on every level of administration. Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to further protect the rights of women in the workplace and ensure that corporations like Wal-mart cannot get away with rampant discrimination. Local organizations must figure out a way for smaller groups of Wal-mart's female employees to seek justice over lost wages and denied promotions. We will not allow Wal-mart to get away with discrimination. We WILL hold them accountable.

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