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Are Women a Class?: Wal-Mart at the Supreme Court

6 December 2010

While this blog is devoted to men’s issues, this bit of news about women is too important to pass up.

Today the United States Supreme Court agreed to take on a court case in which female employees of Wal-Mart have filed a class action law suit, claiming payscale discrimination.  The nature of court case, however, is not whether Wal-Mart has paid many of their women less than men (this fact is largely obvious).  The Supreme Court is to decide whether women in the organization can sue as a class action suit.  In other words: Does “woman” classify as a category of discrimination on this enormous scale?  Sure, a hundred female employees working in a single factory might sue for the sexual bias – but what about hundreds of thousands of women, working in thousands of different locations under different conditions and management?

While the monetary consequence of this suit might amount to billions of dollars going to Wal-Mart’s female employees, the greater significance is what this case means as a litmus test for the nation.  Is America sympathetic to the feminist concern that women are chronically underpaid?  And the significance for governmental oversight: Will sex-based discrimination be regulated much more on a federal level?

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