Brief Fact Summary.
Dukes filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores alleging gender discrimination that resulted in a disparate promotions and pay for female Wal-Mart employees. The purported plaintiff class was comprised of about 1.5 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart Stores. The district court certified the class, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A party seeking class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 must affirmatively demonstrate compliance with the Rule’s requirements: numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequate representation.
Nothing in either the language or history of Rule 23 gives a court any authority to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the merits of a suit in order to determine whether it may be maintained as a class action.View Full Point of Law
Respondent Dukes had worked as a cashier and customer service manager at Wal-Mart Stores. Along with other Respondents, she filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores, alleging gender discrimination in connection with a corporate culture that allegedly encouraged an overall procedure that resulted in a disparate impact on female employees in terms of promotions and pay. The putative class was comprised of about 1.5 million current and former female Wal-Mart Stores employees. The district court entered an order certifying the class, and a divided Court of Appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Did Dukes demonstrate compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23‘s requirements (numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequate representation) so that class certification was warranted?
No. Dukes did not demonstrate compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23‘s commonality requirement.
Justice Ginsburg’s opinion concurred, in part, and dissented, in part. She asserted that the Court’s decision incorrectly conflated the concerns of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) assessment (that common questions predominate over individual ones and that the class action is the superior approach) into the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a) threshold determination (numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequate representation). She stated that individual differences should not bar the class as long as the Rule 23(a) requirements were satisfied.
Respondents failed to provide any convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory policy with regard to pay and promotions for female employees; statistical and anecdotal evidence did not provide this proof, nor did testimony of a sociological expert.