There have been various occasions when employees are discriminated against in terms of promotion on the basis that they are not of the required sex, not that they are not qualified to be in those positions. Because of this, class action lawsuit has been formulated to be applied by the victims of promotional or salary discrimination to fight for their rights.
This write up explains the use of class Action lawsuit by the affected people to ensure they are not discriminated against in promotion at workplace on the basis that they are not of the required sex while they have the qualification to be in those positions.
Class action is a situation where a group of employees join forces to file a case in court in which a particular group of defendants are being involved. This type of cooperative lawsuit was first used in the United States and is still majorly used in the U.S. The adoption of this law has spread to other European countries but some variations have been effected with time to allow various organizations to forward claims in defense of large group of consumers.
By becoming a member of class action lawsuit, a person is required to sign an agreement that he/she ceases to have the rights to sue the organization as a person. If the plaintiffs are successful in their claim, the class action is usually rewarded in comparison to the damage afflicted by the defendants. On the other hand, it is not a guarantee that all the members of the suit should be compensated if the plaintiff becomes successful. The rate of compensation can be varied depending on the agreement (Crosby 52-59).
There are two categories of awards from class action lawsuit: punitive and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages apply to awards claimed from the inflictions caused by the defendants. The rewards are meant to compensate for the damages caused by the defendant, for instance illness, death, or discomfort. On the other hand, punitive damages are form of punishment for the organization engaged in the unacceptable acts, or engaging in causing discomfort. The seriousness of punitive damages in a class action lawsuit can be witnessed when it is shown that a company has violated health, protection or psychological health of the plaintiffs.
The settlement of class action lawsuits can be accomplished by jury trials or settled before trials. In the directed mediation suit, damages are agreed by the defendants. There can arise problems by the jury trial part if the entity accused with punitive or compensatory damages appeals for the decision. This is a consequence of the fact that the appeal can take a long time. As a result, the plaintiffs have to wait for sometime before they get compensation (United States, Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, Bancroft-Whitney Company 1458-1502). On other occasions the plaintiffs may never get any compensation if the companies declare bankrupt. However, there are several advantages associated with class action lawsuits. Firstly, combination increases the chances of success of a legal procedure, and minimizes the expenses involved in court case. In cases with common enquiries of legal procedures and the truth, combination of claims prevents the need to repeat cases of the same category, witnesses and issues from case to case.
Appeal to the US Supreme Court
In this case, Walmart incorporation has been sued of systematic discrimination to women and payment. If this suit becomes a success, a group of 1.5 million women in United States could cause a lot of loss to the retail company. Several plaintiffs have been filed in the U.S Supreme Court against the giant retail outlet and the company has been filing asking for the review into the plaintiffs. It is believed that the case against Wal-Mart could be a milestone in class action (George 23-36).
The beginning of the case was in San Francisco in 2001 during which a group of six women sued Walmart incorporation of discrimination, partly on the claim that they were neglected for promotion in place of men. Walmart On the other hand is not concerned with the validity of the women’s claims, it rather emphasizes on the legitimization of the class.
Normally, gender discrimination cases are tackled by courts as they come. On the contrary, when cases come under federal law, and plaintiffs are based in different states, the plaintiffs can be pooled into a class action case. The Walmart plaintiff class incorporates all women who were employees in any of the company’s 3400 stores towards the end of 1990s.
The claim of Walmart is that it is unable to handle the plaintiffs against it by a large class like the one it faces on the claim that each woman has her own facts.
The company’s statement in court petition claims that the case incorporates vital issues about class action process and Title VII. It further says that the 9th circuit’s view opposes many decisions of other relevant courts and also the Supreme Court on its own. It claims that the 9th circuit view was more concerned with the class certification and not the validity of the lawsuit. It claims to have been an outstanding place for women to work and has been identified as a principal in ensuring development and success of women in place of work (George 26-36).
In a petition for a reexamination, Walmart describes the class action as including every woman employed by the company in the precedent decade in any of the 3400 stores, 41 localities and 400 districts and who were in positions in any of its 53 departments and 170 job descriptions. The petition further claims that the large number of class members together demand billions of money in compensation with the claim that a large number of Walmart managers brought financial discomfort on each of the members of the class likewise by ignoring them on the basis of their sex, which is against the company’s policy of non-discrimination.
The petition tries to persuade the court to apply injunctive relief and tries to question whether the validation of the enormous class passes congregate under civil rights law and the process constitutional process or the best measures available.
The petition further contends that there could be gender bias in the branch stores due to delegation of duties to the branch managers, a charge that could be filed against any company regardless of size. In the event that the appeals court’s verdict stands, virtually every employer in the business world could be topic to the same suit. Despite the fact that Title VII does not necessitate employers to apply selective and biased treatment to escape costly cases, and heavy losses, the verdict will cause an actual negative effect on authentic business culture that the business must get rid of (Crosby 59-66). The petition appeals that the court’s evaluation would be important in providing the needed verification and to make it a duty that the truth is followed.
A co-leading advocate for the plaintiffs referred to as Washington attorney Joseph Sellers dismissed the notion Walmart would find it difficult trying to protect itself against such an immense class action.
While conversing on phone from his office, Sellers tried to defend Walmart that there was enough confirmation that could be obtained from Walmart employees that and workforce in defense of the policy of the retail giant. He claimed that there was enough evidence to show that Walmart the discrimination being talked about was not witnessed in all the branches of the retail company, in the same way plaintiffs can rely on the same claim to illustrate there was. He admitted that there were instances when there was discrimination against women that women are second class employees in any organization. He however defended himself saying these claims only took place when managers met in strip clubs or at restaurants.
As the matter of class action against Walmarts continued spreading and inspiring the development of class action, sellers condemned the class action as having been certified six years back. After those six years, The frequency of Equal job opportunity Commission Class has drastically reduced.
A judge in the U.S District Court and a couple of sittings of the 9th Circuit a panel of three judges and the other number representing the rehearing of the appeal approved the class. Nevertheless, the vote had a narrow margin (George 29-33).The panel of judges supported the opinion that the accurate evidence provided by the women, opinions of the experts, information from statistical sources and information from unreliable evidence provided enough information to show that Walmart’s female workers were exposed to one source of corporate laws not mentioning a wide variety of personal segregation acts that may have contributed to illegally discriminate against them in contravention of Title VII.
Seller reiterated that the practice of discrimination was a common phenomenon and it was not only used by managers of Walmart. Due to the gravity of each case, Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfield differed saying there was a possibility that women employees of Walmart who have been victims of sex discrimination stood a chance of losing a lot if the discrimination class action is approved. All those concerned with the settlement based on the Rule, 23 in the Federal rules of Civil processes, the verdict would encompass all members, whether relevant or not to the class. The situation would be worse if the plaintiffs lose and even worse if the plaintiffs win. In the case where the plaintiffs lose, women who have been subject of sex discrimination will have to split their disciplinary damages awards with majority of women who did not. Women who are expected to benefit from immense compensatory damages in addition to missed payments will be underprivileged of them. Women who are no longer employees of Walmart will not benefit from injunctive and declaratory relief of any importance to them, whereas new female Walmart workers will reap the benefits of justice done to previous women. He explained that in the event that the settlement is in most occasions, verbal communication for women and collection of money by the lawyers, the realistic possibility is that the victory would be ridiculous.
In the April verdict by the entire court in support of the panel and the district court judge, the difference came as a result of political motivation. The six Circuit judges were appointees of democrats while four on the opposing side were appointed by Republicans, Kleinfeld being one of them. An opposing writing by Circuit Judge Sandra explained that in the absence of evidence of implementation of discriminatory decisions by branch managers in all the branches or any evidence in support of discriminatory practice in all the branches of the company, there was no reason to combine the purported 1.5 million claims to a sole action (United States, Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, Bancroft-Whitney Company 1501-1506).
The decision to accept or reject the case still remains unknown to the Supreme Court. Previously Justice Stephen Bayer has lower-leveled himself from a Walmart case because he was a stockholder in the giant retail company. The information whether or not Bayer is a shareholder in the company remains unknown. It is also not known whether other member of the high court have shares at Walmart.
Class action can be used to alter the intention of a class in which the defendant is a part. As an example Landeros v. Flood situation was applied with an intention of altering the motive of doctors and inspire them to acknowledge suspected child mistreatment. On the other hand, they stand a chance of facing the threat of national battle for misdemeanor in tort resulting from the letdown to account for established injuries. Earlier, many medical practitioners were not willing to account for situations of child maltreatment in spite of the law that demanded it.
Also, in situations of low funds, class action makes it possible for all plaintiffs to be given relief and that before-time filing complains do not use the finance of all its resources before other plaintiffs may be repaid. Thus class action encompasses all claims into a single place in which the court can rightfully partition the assets between all the plaintiffs if the judgment is in their favor.
Furthermore, a class action prevents a situation where varied court decisions could cause unwanted values for the defendant to go after. As an example, a court may confirm a plaintiff for class conduct wherever a number of entity bond-holders litigate to settle on whether they could change their bonds to general stock.
Refusing to go to court on the case in one hearing might consequence in diverse outcomes plus conflicting values of behavior for the defendant company. Consequently courts will allow class action in similar occasions.
Reasoning of the 9th Circuit Court on Employees
A newly conceived judgment, the Court of Appeal of the US for the 9th Circuit has the opinion that the decision of law assumption in an unobstructed consensus of contractors with California truck drivers was not applicable in determining independent contractor exclusively. Somewhat California law was applicable. Consequently the drivers were able to file claims under the California Labor Code that their classification was misinterpreted and they were supposed to be considered as employees.
This decision is a milestone to companies depending on assumptions of choice of law in making contracts to consider the extent of the assumption and to be cautious of depending upon it as a means to evade California Law. Considering Narayan, the 9th Circuit was of the opinion that EGL Inc. – a service whose base is Texas and governed by Texas Law, did not have the power to compel its California drivers to send away claims of employment affiliation beneath the California Labor Code despite the agreement in their signing that considered them as sovereign contractors and assumed that the contracts could be determined under the Texas Law (United States, Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, Bancroft-Whitney Company 1495).
It was found out by the Court that the Texas selection-of-law assumption only applied to the conditions of the contracts on its own and did not consider the drivers’ claims that they were not allowed to earn their overtime pay, expenditure allowances, and meal durations as expected by California Law on the basis that those implied constitutional claims that were not included in the contract, include the explanation of the contract conditions f the contract, or necessitate there to exist a contract.
Due to the reason that Texas law did not pertain to claims beyond the contract, the court used California multi-dimensional test of employment to the EGL drivers to ascertain if they were employees that were able to bring wage and time claims. In the test, it measured the possibility of employee’s ability for profit or loss on the basis of his skills of management, the possibility of employee venturing in facilities or resources required for his work, or his hiring of assistants, whether the service executed demands any skills, the level durability of the working connection and whether the work done is an important part of the employer’s business in question.
It was stated by the court that the delivery work done by the current and former drivers of EGL formed a pillar in the daily operations of the company, that demonstrative videotape the company availed for its drivers showed that they undertook the key functions in the distribution operations, that a driver was guided on how to conduct himself by the driver hand book, that the drivers conducted business using the company forms and that meetings were conducted for drivers concerning company policies.
It was also established by the court that EGL controlled the driver schedules, encompassing holiday times, and some disciplinary measures were subjected on the drivers if they did not appear for work on time. Furthermore, they were required by the company to put on shirts and boots with EGL brands and to brand their trucks with the EGL symbol (George 26). Less skill was required in performing the work done by the drivers and a contract between the company and a particular driver could end in a span of one month notice. Based on these assumptions, the court assumed that the drivers provided enough information of an employment connection to necessitate a jury trial of their legal claims against EGL.
Crosby Faye, Ropp Ann. Sex discrimination in the workplace: multidisciplinary perspectives. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.
George, Bohlander. Managing human resources. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2007.
United States, Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, Bancroft-Whitney Company. United States Code of Service. New York: Lawyers Co-operative Pub. Co., 2000.