Reaction to U.S. Supreme’s Wal-Mart
Re-reporting, commentary by Carolyn Bennett
Old Sam got his day in court but what of the movement of women?
I decided years ago that I neither wanted nor needed anything sold or otherwise offered by Wal-Mart or its corporate holdings. If we can boycott Apartheid states, surely we can stop buying products and services from this corporation and its subsidiaries.
WAL-MART STORES, INC. v. DUKES ET AL, CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT No. 10–277. Argued March 29, 2011—Decided June 20, 2011, SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined, and in which GINS-BURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to Parts I and III., http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-277.pdf
“Respondents, current or former employees of petitioner Wal-Mart, sought judgment against the company for injunctive and declaratory relief, punitive damages, and back pay, on behalf of themselves and a nationwide class of some 1.5 million female employees, because of Wal-Mart’s alleged discrimination against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They claim that local managers exercise their discretion over pay and promotions disproportionately in favor of men, which has an unlawful disparate impact on female employees; and that Wal-Mart’s refusal to cabin its managers’ authority amounts to disparate treatment.…”
This high and predominantly male U.S. court again has ruled against women, against the lower Court of Appeals ruling. The decision written by a man, Antonin Scalia, ruled to deny the plaintiffs' (women) commonality sufficient to support the class action; denied them standing of having been discriminated against (relative to male employees) in treatment and work rules, pay and promotion by Wal-Mart; and denied them back pay for suffering, for loss.
Former Wal-Mart employee Stephanie Odle, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said today on the Democracy Now news program that after she had worked for several years and in several Wal-Mart (and Sam’s) stores in several U.S. states, she “was terminated because they wanted to make room for a man” to be marketing manager. “I was the marketing manager,” she said, “so that following Monday they trumped up this charge and terminated me.”
Odle said she had experienced discrimination “in all U.S. states, in different regions, and with different directors” and she knows this corporation “systematically discriminate[s].”
To bring her case before a U.S. court she said she had searched six months before finding attorneys who would “actually take my case [and finally found] attorneys in New Mexico [who said] ‘you have a great case. We’ll take it. We can go fight it and win, and you’ll be done in a couple of years. However, they [Wal-Mart] won’t change.
“‘If we want them to change, and if you want to make a difference, then we need to do a class action.’ I said, ‘Well, let’s go. I have a three-year-old [and] I want to make a difference for her. I want to make this easier for her’ so we filed this class action.”
Eleven years later, she said, “the class action is decertified, or however you say it, but I have to know we did make a difference.”
Notwithstanding the Supreme Court ruling, Odle said, “I don’t quit. I’m not going to stop. They did discriminate against me [and] the wrong is going to have to be made right…They discriminated against me and they will have to answer for that.”
Here again is a travesty of justice and the women of the United States, indeed women of the world do not have to stand for it. They can cease and desist in consuming, purchasing products and services found in Wal-Mart stores and subsidiaries.
Will such action cause women again to lose, to suffer more unemployment and underemployment? What is the better stand for the long run?
Former Wal-Mart manager Stephanie Odle says she will not stop in her quest for justice. A wrong has been done —and indeed continues to be done — and it must be made right. Her stand is a courageous one but she is an individual and she needs the whole collective of a movement with her.
Whatever happened to the ERA (U.S. Equal Rights Amendment)? Women sat on the sidelines; excluded significant numbers of women, let men shame them out of the movement (and back into the kitchen) for at least 30 years; and, of course, trended backward.
Backwardness comes from standing still, failing to include all women in a movement of women. Where are the true movement women when you need them? How many more years will women persist in trending backward?
Sources and notes
“1.5 Million Female Wal-Mart Employees Lose Historic Sex Discrimination Case Before Supreme Court,” June 21, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/21/15_million_female_walmart_employee...
Stephanie Odle is a former Wal-Mart employee and one of the plaintiffs in WAL-MART STORES, INC. v. DUKES ET AL Odle filed the gender discrimination claim against Wal-Mart in 1999 that ultimately led to the class action lawsuit.
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Posted by Bennett's Study at 5:43 PM