No Glue Stocked on Aisle 23: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes Deals a Death Blow to Title VII Class Actions

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Costello, Matthew
Civil Procedure; Class Actions; Employment Discrimination; Law
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After almost ten years, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes ended before it began. In a 5-4 decision (split among ideological lines), the U.S. Supreme Court decertified the Dukes class from the starting gate, ending the country’s largest employment discrimination class-action lawsuit against the country’s largest corporation. In the months following the Court's controversial decision, lawyers and academics have been scrambling to assess the impact of the case on procedural class action and substantive discrimination law. This Note posits that Dukes misapplied procedural class action law and seemingly overturned well-settled employment discrimination precedent. As a result, the Court’s imprudent decision will likely limit the ability for Title VII plaintiffs to ever bring forth their collective claims of workplace discrimination. By erecting barriers to Title VII class litigation, the Supreme Court drastically curtailed the rights of everyday workers and inhibited the effectiveness of the legal system by allowing procedural rules to disrupt the truth-seeking function of litigation. Over the past few years, the American public has grown frustrated at the notion that large companies are too big to fail. With its decision in Dukes, the Supreme Court effectively decided that some corporations are also too big to be held accountable under Title VII.