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Class actions could get boost as Franken puts up his Dukes

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

On the June 20 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 2011 Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision, Sen. Al Franken, D–Minn., introduced the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, designed to make it easier for employees to file class-action lawsuits.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Court ruled against a group of women who attempted to file a class-action pay discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant. It found that the women failed to provide “convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy.”

Critics of the decision said the Supreme Court, in effect, moved the goal posts by requiring the women to meet that standard to gain class-action certification. They argued that the standard was appropriate to win a lawsuit, but wasn’t necessary to be certified as a class of plaintiffs.

Franken’s bill, and a similar version in the House of Representatives, would lower the standard for filing class actions by specifically stating that plaintiffs need not prove their case at the class-certification stage.

Rep. Rosa Delauro, D–Conn., pri­­mary House sponsor, told ­reporters, “In only a year, [the Wal-Mart decision] has been cited over 260 times by courts and used in multiple sex discrimination cases to disqualify them at the starting gate.”  

Note: The Republican-controlled House probably won’t pass either version.

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