Citation. 564 338 (2011)
Brief Fact Summary.
Current and former female employees sue Defendant Wal-Mart for sex discrimiation and attempt to be certified as a class which Wal-Mart challenges.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Class certification under FRCP 23(a) is improper if there is no common injury that may be resolved across an entire class.
Plaintiff Dukes acted as the class representative for about 1.5 million current and former employees of Defendant Wal-Mart for alleged violation of discrimination against female employees in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiffs did not allege a violation of a specific corporate policy but that Wal-Mart managers exercised their discretion over pay and promotions in a way that disproportionately benefited the male employees. Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief in addition to back pay. The district court approved class certification, Defendant Wal-Mart appealed and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court then granted certiorari.
Under FRCP 23(a), is class certification improper if there is no common injury that may be resolved across the entire class?
Yes, under FRCP 23(a) class certification is improper if there is no common injury that may be resolved across the entire class.
Justice Justice Ginsburg with Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan join concurring in part and dissenting in part
Agrees that the majority’s finding that the claims were improperly certified under FRCP 23(b)(2), but disagrees that Plaintiffs have not met the commonality threshold required by FRCP 23(a). One common issue is sufficient to certify the class under FRCP 23. The common issue here is whether Wal-Mart’s discretionary pay and promotion policies are discriminatory against women. The court focuses too much on the differences between the class members which is inappropriate for FRCP(a) analysis and is better suited when considering FRCP 23(b)(3).