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Court Hears Arguments in Wal-Mart Case

Court Hears Arguments in Wal-Mart Case

scotus1.jpgThis morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Wal-Mart v. Dukes to determine whether hundreds of thousands of current and former female employees of Wal-Mart can join together in a class action lawsuit to challenge pay and promotion practices that they allege to be discriminatory. News coverage of the case and the implications of various outcomes has been extensive, so I won't attempt to re-invent the wheel in this post. Instead, let me explain why the Reform Movement cares about this case--so much so that the Union for Reform Judaism joined an amicus brief urging the Court to allow the female employees to pursue their class action lawsuit.

At issue in Wal-Mart v. Dukes is whether the "class" of Wal-Mart employees was sufficiently certified under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Union for Reform Judaism strongly supports Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the principles set forth in this vital law, which was drafted in large part in the Religious Action Center's conference room. As the amicus brief notes, class action lawsuits are essential to addressing the pervasive sex discrimination in pay and promotions that still exists in the United States -- and that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was designed to eliminate. By allowing the women of Wal-Mart to proceed with their class action lawsuit, the Supreme Court would be upholding the true spirit of the Civil Rights Act.

The URJ has a long history of supporting civil rights for all, regardless of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. If the women of Wal-Mart are not allowed to pursue their case as a class action lawsuit, it would have devastating consequences for the pursuit of future civil rights claims on any of these issues.

The justices are expected to hand down a decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes sometime in the late spring or early summer. Keep checking the blog for updates on this case and the issue of pay equity.

Published: 3/29/2011

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