The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that a group
of female employees cannot sue Wal-Mart collectively for alleged sex
The Wal-Mart employees asserted the world's largest retailer routinely favoured male counterparts for promotion and better wages.
The question before the court was not whether there was in fact discrimination, but whether the large group could collectively sue Wal-Mart for damages in a class-action lawsuit, or whether they must sue individually.
The unanimous decision by the court's nine justices reverses an earlier decision by a US appeals court in San Francisco.
A victory for the female workers could have led to more than 1 million women joining the lawsuit, and might have prompted similar class-action lawsuits by other groups of women and minorities who believe they have been discriminated against by their employers.
WalMart acknowledges there have been individual cases of discrimination, but insists there is no pattern across the company. They argue the women's complaints are too different to be combined in one lawsuit that could be worth billions of dollars in damages.
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