On Tuesday , when the Supreme Court opens for oral arguments, employees across the country — especially women — should be very interested. The high court is hearing arguments on a long-running gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer. At issue: whether women who have worked at the company will be granted class-action status to sue the company for discrimination (Led by Wal-Mart veterans Betty Dukes and Christine Kwapnoski, this would be the largest class-action suit in history, with between 600,000 and 1.5 million potential plaintiffs).
In litigation that started a decade ago, female Wal-Mart employees are charging that they've been overlooked when it comes to hiring and promotion at the nation's largest private-sector employer. For its part, the company argues that it has strong anti-discrimination policies in place at the corporate level, and that hiring and promotion are decentralized. The case, Dukes vs. Walmart, could be used to set a new precedent for such litigation, which is one of the reasons many business groups have chimed in on the side of Wal-Mart.