The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against a group that sued Wal-Mart over alleged sex discrimination in matters of pay and promotion in the name of up to 1.5 million women who worked there and at Sam’s Club since 1998. Monday’s decision reversed a California U.S. Court of Appeals decision.

The new ruling — which saved the giant retailer from potentially billions of dollars in damages — means that the lawsuit cannot proceed under class-action status and that each of the women involved must pursue their own claims. In being unable to sue as a unified bloc, complainants are likely to have a much more difficult time making their cases. The decision is expected to set a precedent that could have a dampening effect on similar class-action lawsuits. –ARK

The New York Times:

The lawsuit sought back pay that could have amounted to billions of dollars. But the Supreme Court, in a decision that was unanimous on this point, said the plaintiffs’ lawyers had improperly sued under a part of the class action rules that was not primarily concerned with monetary claims.

The court did not decide whether Wal-Mart had in fact discriminated against the women, only that they could not proceed as a class. The court’s decision on that issue will almost certainly affect all sorts of other class-action suits, including ones asserting antitrust, securities and product liability violations.

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