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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wal-Mart: too big to sue?

Chris tells her story in Unequal Justice
When Chris Kwapnoski worked at Sam’s Club, a Wal-Mart affiliate, managers told her that she needed to “doll up” and “blow the cobwebs off” her makeup if she wanted to get ahead. At the same time, a male associate was given a larger raise because he had “a family to support,” even though at the time Chris was a single mother raising two young children.

And when Chris and more than a million other women joined together to hold Wal-Mart accountable for the discriminatory pay and promotion practices of its management, the Supreme Court told them that Wal-Mart was too big to sue.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a narrow majority of the Court ruled that the 1.5 million women who faced systemic discrimination as Wal-Mart workers did not have enough in common to qualify for a class action, ignoring the volumes of anecdotal and statistical evidence to the contrary. And because of the Wal-Mart decision, it is now harder for employees and consumers to band together to fight corporate misbehavior. The Court significantly raised the bar for forming a class, which is one of the only effective ways to fight against widespread injustices committed by large, deep-pocketed corporate interests.

Chris’s story is featured in AFJ’s latest documentary film, Unequal Justice: The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court, which will be released this fall. The short documentary explores the growing pro-corporate bias in key Court decisions, like Wal-Mart v. Dukes, and their real-world impact on ordinary Americans. Click here to learn more about the film and sign up to host a screening.

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