The world’s largest private employer set another milestone in 2007 as it defended itself against the largest civil class action suit in U.S. history, Dukes v. Wal-Mart. In February the 9th Circuit affirmed a District Court’s class certification of what plaintiffs estimate to be more than 1.5 million female former and current employees who allege Wal-Mart’s policies and practices discriminate against females in compensation and promotions. The court cited evidence suggesting “the discrimination was closely related to Wal-Mart’s corporate structure.”
Although the largest of Wal-Mart’s current legal woes, Dukes is only one of more than 70 labor suits the retail giant is currently fighting. For instance, it continues to face several suits regarding unpaid wages: In January, it agreed to pay $33.5 million to almost 87,000 workers who were forced to work off the clock without overtime pay. This summer Missouri and New Mexico denied Wal-Mart’s appeals of class certification in two such cases. And in October a Philadelphia court upped to $141 million damages the retailer must pay to workers who were denied rest and meal breaks.