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Wal-Mart Asks for Texas Gender Bias Suit to Be Thrown Out

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a proposed class of some 1.5 million members nationwide in Betty Dukes et al. vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., deciding that the class of plaintiffs did not have enough in common to pursue the lawsuit.

March 7, 2012
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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has asked a federal judge to dismiss a gender discrimination case filed against it last year in Texas, arguing that the suit was filed too late.

This is the latest development in a case originally filed in 2001, where plaintiffs had alleged that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart promoted and paid female employees less than men, even when female workers had higher performance ratings and more seniority.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a proposed class of some 1.5 million members nationwide in Betty Dukes et al. vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., deciding that the class of plaintiffs did not have enough in common to pursue the lawsuit.

The Texas case, Stephanie Odle et al. vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., originally was filed in federal court in Dallas in October, and an expanded amended complaint was filed in January.

The motion Wal-Mart filed on March 5 states that every U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, including the 5th Circuit that includes Dallas, has held that the case would be time-barred.

"The reassertion of class allegations following a denial or decertification of a previous class is prohibited once the original statute of limitations has expired," Wal-Mart said in the motion. "Otherwise, class counsel could extend the statute of limitations virtually forever."

"Moreover, even if the assertion of class allegations were not barred, the class proposed by Ms. Odle and the other named plaintiffs would fail for the same reasons that the class was decertified in the Dukes case," Wal-Mart said. "As in Dukes, the plaintiffs here failed to identify any discrete, actionable employment practice that commonly affected all members of the still-sprawling proposed, class."

Reacting to Wal-Mart's motion, Hal K. Gillespie, a shareholder with Gillespie, Rozen & Watsky P.C. in Dallas and a plaintiff attorney in the case, said it is not well-founded.

"The case we filed is in compliance with what the U.S. Supreme Court said we should do in terms of getting a case properly filed for class certification, and we don't think any of the procedural arguments they've raised have merit," Gillespie said.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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