Wal-Mart seeks end to refiled gender-bias lawsuit

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 17, 2012 12:48 PM
Wal-Mart seeks end to refiled gender-bias lawsuit

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Women who refiled a gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc have failed to come to grips with the landmark Supreme Court decision that ended their nationwide class action against the company, Wal-Mart argued in a court filing.

Plaintiffs alleging the world's largest retailer denied them pay raises and promotions because of their gender are regrouping after the high court last year dismantled a class of up to 1.5 million current and former Wal-Mart workers.

They filed a reformulated lawsuit against Wal-Mart in a San Francisco federal court in October, saying they were confining their allegations to California. The lawsuit is part of a strategy to bring more narrowly tailored class actions.

But in a motion to dismiss filed late on Monday, Wal-Mart said the smaller proposed class action actually seeks to cover all women who were employed at any Walmart in any region that included a California store.

Read literally, that would include most states west of the Mississippi River, Wal-Mart argued.

"This attempt to cobble back together the original class badly misses the point," Wal-Mart said. "Without the 'glue' of a common policy or practice holding individual claims together, there is no justification for adjudicating them collectively. And plaintiffs still fail to allege any such 'glue.'"

Attorneys for the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for a comment. In their amended lawsuit, the plaintiffs cited a 2004 meeting where then Wal-Mart Chief Executive Tom Coughlin told district managers that "women tend to be better at information processing," while men are better at focusing on a single objective.

Wal-Mart proposed a May hearing date for its dismissal motion.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Betty Dukes, Patricia Surgeson, Edith Arana, Deborah Gunter and Christine Kwapnoski, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, 01-2252.

(Reporting By Dan Levine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)