A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the certification of a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, which alleged that as many as 1.5 million current and former female employees were discriminated against in pay and promotions (Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)

The court wrote that “Plaintiffs’ expert opinions, factual evidence, statistical evidence, and anecdotal evidence present significant proof of a corporate policy of discrimination and support Plaintiffs’ contention that female employees nationwide were subjected to a common pattern and practice of discrimination.”

The court did not analyze nor determine the merits of the plaintiffs’ allegations of gender discrimination, but agreed with the lower court ruling that the case could proceed as a class action against Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is expected to ask the three-judge panel to reconsider the case and to also request a full panel of 15 Ninth Circuit judges to consider it. The company could also petition the U.S. Supreme Court if the Ninth Circuit does not overturn its decision.

Brad Seligman, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, estimated the size of the class could include more than two million women.

The Wal-Mart class action certification has significant implications for employers, particularly with respect to systemic compensation analyses. DCI will continue to monitor and report on developments related to this litigation as they become available.

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