I keep reading reports that Wal-Mart v. Dukes, where the Court reversed a class certification including 1.5 million women (who worked all over the U.S. under different supervisors at different stores) that was based on the company giving supervisors too much discretion, 125 anecdotal stories and an expert report employing dubious social framework analysis, demonstrates that the Court has a pro-business slant. (Examples here, here and here). These articles are prompted largely by the Senate Judiciary hearing held June 29, 2011 entitled "Barriers to Justice and Accountability: How the Supreme Court’s Recent Rulings will Affect Corporate Behavior." I disagree that the Court has a pro-business bias in employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases.
In the four employment cases heard this term, the Court found for the employee/plaintiff on three of those cases –all retaliation cases. For example, in Kasten the Court held that employees can engage in FLSA-protected activity by making complaints orally rather than just in writing. In Thompson, the Court held that an employee who has never engaged in Title VII protected activity can bring a retaliation claim if they are closely associated with another that has engaged in protected activity. Finally, in Staub, the Court held that an employee can maintain a USERRA retaliation case even where the decision maker is unaware of the employee protected activity if the plaintiff can show that
Dukes is an example of a case that should have never been certified as a disparate treatment (i.e., intentional discrimination) case in the first place. Nothing more; nothing less. In fact, Dukes was more of a procedure case than it ever was an employment discrimination case. Certainly, it is not proof that the Supreme Court has a pro-business bias.
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