Tag Archives: Wal-Mart v. Dukes

Up Close and Personal at the Supreme Court …a message from Fatima Goss Graves

As I sat in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday and watched the lead attorney for Betty Dukes, the former Wal-Mart greeter, argue on behalf of her and the other women of Wal-Mart, I was more certain than ever that their cause is just and must prevail. Wal-Mart v. Dukes illuminates the fact that equal pay and a fair shot at promotion are still a dream for many working women across the country.

Please help support the Center’s efforts on behalf of the women at Wal-Mart and all women and girls nationwide.

As you may know, the National Women’s Law Center co-authored an amicus brief in Wal-Mart v. Dukes on behalf of 32 other organizations, setting out why the sexist treatment of Wal-Mart’s female employees was clearly discriminatory and why the case is so important to working women everywhere.

If the Supreme Court gives the green light to the women of Wal-Mart to proceed as a class, as it should, it will mean that these women, who first filed their lawsuit 10 years ago, will have their day in court at last. They will finally have the chance to equalize pay and promotions at the country’s largest employer. And the Supreme Court will send an important message that no company is too big or too powerful to be held accountable.

Several years ago, the Center led a coalition pressing Congress to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and today that legislation is the law of the land. Now the Center is continuing the fight for fair pay. Through our work on the Wal-Mart case, advocacy, public education and much more, the Center will not rest until the job is done.

Please help support the Center’s efforts on behalf of fair pay for women and all the other issues on which we work.

On behalf of women and families everywhere, thank you for your generous help.


Fatima Goss Graves

Vice President for Education and Employment

National Women’s Law Center

P.S. Please donate today. And you can also watch Center Co-President Marcia Greenberger discussing the case on ABC Weekend News, NBC Nightly News, and PBS NewsHour.

Supreme Court: The Chamber’s Genie

Ever since Chief Justice Roberts joined the Supreme Court, corporate America has treated his Court as its personal genie, and Roberts has been eager to grant even many of their most outlandish wishes. As soon as Roberts and his fellow conservative Justice Alito joined the high Court, the Chamber of Commerce’s win rate before the justices spiked eight percentage points above its already very high levels under his conservative predecessor William Rehnquist. Nor is Roberts alone in his willingness to go the extra mile for wealthy corporations. A recent study found that every single justice is more likely to side with the Chamber than the just ice who held the seat 25 years ago. As one of the Chamber’s top Supreme Court litigators bragged, “except for the solicitor general representing the United States, no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center.” This week, corporate America made three especially large wishes to the justices, and the Court’s conservatives once again appear eager to grant them.

ELECTIONS FOR SALE: The best way for big business to push its agenda is to ensure that elected officials throughout the country owe wealthy corporations their jobs — and the Supreme Court took a big step towards making this vision a reality with its infamous Citizens United decision. In the wake of Citizens United, the Chamber pledged to spend a massive $75 million to elect corporate-aligned conservatives, and the Chamber’s right-wing allies kicked in hundreds of millions of dollars more. Yet Citizens United is merely one part of a much larger campaign to cement big money’s control over American elections. On Monday, the justices moved on to the next stage of this effort. Public financing laws provide one of the strongest defenses against the corrupting influence of big money in politics, but public financing schemes only work if they allow candidates who opt into them to remain competitive. To defend against this problem, Arizona developed a two-tiered public financing system. Candidates receive additional funds if their opponent or corporate interest groups overwhelm them with attack ads, and thus candidates who are determined not to be tainted by the corrupting influence of major donors are n ot left defenseless . Yet, in a case called McComish v. Bennett, the Court’s five conservatives appear poised to strike this two-tiered system down. If they do so, it could be the death knell for public financing, since no candidate is safe from massive infusions of corporate money after Citizens United.

SLAMMING COURTHOUSE DOORS: Many of the Court’s most corporate-friendly decisions create complicated and arcane procedural barriers to Americans seeking justice. The Court’s discredited Ledbetter decision didn’t literally take away women’s right to equal work for equal pay. It just created a procedural rule that made it impossible for women to vindicate their rights if they didn’t learn that they were paid less than their male colleagues until a short time after the discrimination began. In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Supreme Court will decide whether to shut off another opportunity f or women in the workplace to seek relief — class actions. Class action lawsuits are brought by groups of plaintiffs who share a common injury with each other. These suits are essential to allow ordinary Americans, who often lack the resources to hire lawyers capable of taking on a major corporation on their own, to pool their resources in order to hire counsel that are capable of facing off against someone like Wal-Mart. There is substantial evidence that women who work for Wal-Mart stores shared the same experience of systematic pay and promotion discrimination and thus should be able to bring a class action. If the Supreme Court denies them this right — which it seems likely to do — many of them will be left powerless before Wal-Mart’s legal team.

IMMUNITY TO THE LAW: Procedural victories are all well and good, but there’s nothing corporate America loves more than actual immunity from the law. Past Supreme Court decisions gave sweeping legal immunity to medical device manufacturers and health insurers, and even gave the thumbs up to a biased system of corporate-owned courts that overwhelmingly rule against consumers and employees. In a case called PLIVA, Inc. v. Mensing, the justices will now decide whether to give sweeping im munity to the makers of generic prescription drugs. If the Court sides with the drug makers in this case, two women could be left with no recourse after a prescription drug caused them to develop a horrific neurological disorder resulting in “grotesque involuntary movements of the mouth, tongue, lips, and extremities, involuntary chewing movements, and a general sense of agitation.” And thousands of other Americans could be left similarly defenseless against the powerful pharmaceutical industry.

Wal-Mart Manager Madness – Vote Now on the Sexist 16 Statements

Sex discrimination. In the workplace. It’s madness — right? Imagine hearing things like this at work:

If you would wear lower-cut shirts, you would probably get more pay. http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=HvaOesls0-FHTQ3cfXQKxA..   

The way I see it, a whore for a quarter is a whore for a quarter. http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=01ZMZ7SCfGr09L3YK77-jg..

Men are here to make a career and women aren’t. Retail is for housewives who just need to earn extra money. http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=ArxJU8ZkMvfNjVt3bse_ZQ..

Women working at Wal-Mart report that these were just a few of the absurd statements made by Wal-Mart managers. They are part of the record in the largest class-action fair pay case in history: Wal-Mart v. Dukes, which is being heard today in the U.S. Supreme Court. Reports like these from more than 100 women employees at Wal-Mart describe egregious stereotyping that may have resulted in lower pay and fewer promotions. It IS madness — in fact, it’s Manager Madness. http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=Kmy1ba182tFpC33GZDh_AQ..

Which sexist statement will reign supreme? We’ve seeded our own special March Madness bracket, and you get to determine the results. It’s up to you to decide — we’re pitting “Low Cut Shirts” manager against “Whore for a Quarter” manager — and more. Wal-Mart Manager Madness: The Sexist 16 is now open for voting! http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=vYGICmWgSg2Fp81UNOFQJg..

Voting opens today for the first round! Round 1 will have 16 of the “best” — er, “worst,” sexist statements available for your outraged perusal. Vote today — and every day, until we vote for our Sexist Slam-Dunk Final on Equal Pay Day (April 12th)!

It’s not every day that a case of such importance to working women goes before the Supreme Court! Today happens to be that day — oral arguments are happening right now in front of the country’s highest court, and we need to make sure these outrageous statements get the attention they deserve. Vote today! http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=bCiJsgUtkMRj1f-t0Srs2g..


Fatima Goss Graves

Vice President for Education and Employment

National Women’s Law Center

P.S. As you’re voting, honor the brave women of Wal-Mart today by taking action to ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Take Action: Support the Women of Wal-Mart

As you may already know, the women of Wal-Mart have taken their fight for fair pay all the way to the Supreme Court.

Today the National Women’s Law Center, together with the American Civil Liberties Union and 32 other organizations, took a stand in support of the women of Wal-Mart by filing a friend-of-the-court brief in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Supreme Court case.

Pledge now to Stand with the Women of Wal-Mart and to continue to fight against pay discrimination. www.nwlc.org

The brief tells a shocking story. Women at Wal-Mart on average earned $5,000 less than men, even though women tended to have higher performance ratings and more seniority. Women also were less likely to be promoted to store manager positions and had to wait significantly longer for promotions than men.

As our new fact sheet highlights, scores of statements from women employed at Wal-Mart describe the gender stereotyping women regularly faced on the job. The claim in this case is that these sorts of stereotypes affected pay and promotion decisions at Wal-Mart because of Wal-Mart’s company-wide reliance on unchecked, subjective decision making by individual managers.

At the heart of this case is an important question — Is Wal-Mart too big to be held accountable?

We don’t think so. The Supreme Court has long held that when informal personnel practices lead to a discriminatory result, a class of employees can challenge this practice. The Supreme Court should rule that under these laws, there is no such thing as “too big to be held accountable.”

We will keep you updated on this case and provide opportunities to take action. Cases like this remind us of the profound and lasting impact our courts have on women and their families and why it’s important to confirm federal judges who understand the impact of the law on individuals and who are willing to hold powerful corporate interests accountable when they violate the law.

Will you pledge to Stand with the Women of Wal-Mart and continue to fight against pay discrimination?  www.nwlc.org

Thank you for continuing the fight against pay discrimination.


Fatima Goss Graves

Vice President for Education and Employment

National Women’s Law Center