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Federal court sets deadline in Wal-Mart gender discrimination suit

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] ordered [text, PDF] Friday that a group of women seeking to recover damages from Wal-Mart must file their lawsuits by October 28. The order was issued on a motion to extend tolling of the statute of limitations by former members of the class action gender discrimination suit against the corporation. In June, the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in Wal-Mart v. Dukes [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the group who filed the original claim did not meet the requirements for class certification [JURIST report]. The order, issued by US District Court Judge Charles Breyer, applies to those women who have already received the required permission to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [official website]. Those who have not already received permission from the EEOC have until next year to do so.

The original case was filed in 2001 by female Wal-Mart employees [class website] who contend that Wal-Mart's nationwide policies result in lower pay for women than men in comparable positions and longer waits for management promotions than men. Wal-Mart appealed to the Supreme Court in August 2010 after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld class certification [JURIST reports] in April 2010. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit originally ruled against Wal-Mart's appeal of the class certification in February 2007, then issued a new opinion [text, PDF] in conjunction with its decision in December 2007. Wal-Mart appealed [JURIST report] to the Ninth Circuit in 2005, arguing that the six lead plaintiffs were not typical or common of the class. The certified class, which in 2001 was estimated to comprise more than 1.5 million women, includes all women employed by Wal-Mart nationwide at any time after December 26, 1998. It would have been the largest class action lawsuit in US history.

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