Monday, June 20, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: SCOTUS reverses class certification in Dukes v. Wal-Mart


Just a few minutes ago, the Supreme Court delivered its opinion unanimously reversing the 9th Circuit’s class certification in the historically large Dukes v. Wal-Mart sex discrimination class action.

The full opinion is available for download here [pdf].

I will share my thoughts on the opinion tomorrow, but here’s a quick taste, via the opinion’s syllabus:

Rule 23(a)(2) requires a party seeking class certification to prove that the class has common “questions of law or fact.” Their claims must depend upon a common contention of such a nature that it is capable of classwide resolution—which means that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke. Here, proof of commonality necessarily overlaps with respondents’ merits contention that Wal-Mart engages in a pattern or practice of discrimination. The crux of a Title VII inquiry is “the reason for a particular employment decision,” … and respondents wish to sue for millions of employment decisions at once. Without some glue holding together the alleged reasons for those decisions, it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims will produce a common answer to the crucial discrimination question.


Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact the author, Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.

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