In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (2011), ruled in a 5-4 decision that the certification of the nationwide class of female Wal-Mart employees was not consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), which requires the party seeking class certification to prove that the class has common questions of law or fact. In Dukes, Plaintiffs alleged Wal-Mart management discriminated against women over pay and promotions in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court, however, de-certified the class because it determined that the female Wal-Mart employees, members of the largest class in U.S. history, did not share enough in common as plaintiffs to be granted class certification.
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, approximately 45,000 California-based Wal-Mart employees re-filed their class discrimination claims in the Northern District of California, Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Docket No. 3:01-cv-02252 (N.D. Cal. 2011). The complaint narrowed the scope of Plaintiffs’ class claims to current and former California female employees, and attempted to establish commonality by claiming the source of bias was a distinct group of California district and regional managers.
In January 2012, Wal-Mart moved to dismiss the claims of the smaller proposed class of women, arguing that Plaintiffs still failed to prove commonality under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). In September 2012, the U.S. District Court refused to grant Wal-Mart’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the issue of commonality should be addressed in Plaintiff’s motion for class certification.
Wal-Mart then made a motion for interlocutory appeal, which was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer in December 2012. In a nine-page order, Judge Breyer contended that an early review would not "materially advance" the litigation and that since the record had not been developed, no substantial grounds existed for a difference in opinion on whether or not Plaintiffs demonstrated sufficient commonality for class treatment of their claims. Accordingly, Breyer stated, “Where the issue of relative efficiency is a toss-up, this Court sees no value in encouraging parties to litigate a request for interlocutory appeal when the resolution of a motion the Court has already set for hearing in the near future may well, as a practical matter, lead to the same result.”
Plaintiffs must file their motion for class certification no later than January 11, 2013, and the Court is set to hear the motion at 10 a.m. on February 15, 2013.
VERDICT: Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Denied, Case Pending
COURT: U.S.D.C. for the Northern District of California
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