WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an effort to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) for discrimination on behalf of potentially a million female workers.
The justices said the lawyers pressing the case failed to point to a common corporate policy that led to gender discrimination against workers at thousands of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores across the country.
The workers “provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.
Four justices -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- said they would have returned the case to a lower court and let the workers try to press ahead with a class action under a different legal theory.
“The court, however, disqualifies the class from the starting gate,” Ginsburg wrote.
The case was one of the most closely watched Supreme Court business disputes in years, in part because the justices hadn’t looked at the standards for certifying a class-action suit in 12 years.
The case could have cost the world's largest private employer billions had it been successful.