March 2, 2011
Katie Broendel, email@example.com
Lisa Goodnight, firstname.lastname@example.org
AAUW Signs Amicus Brief in Support of the Plaintiffs in
Gender Discrimination Suit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has signed an amicus “friend of the court” brief in support of the plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. On March 29, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument to determine whether the case can move forward as a class action. AAUW — one of 34 groups to sign the brief — will also provide financial support through its Legal Advocacy Fund to defray the expenses of six of the lead plaintiffs.
The full brief is available on the AAUW website.
Lead plaintiff Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart employee, has alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart retail stores. If she and the other plaintiffs prevail at the Supreme Court, their case will become the largest class-action civil rights suit in the nation’s history, comprising approximately 1.6 million female Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees.
“AAUW believes that all these women deserve their day in court and that the Supreme Court should allow the case to proceed as a class action. It is the vehicle through which 1.6 million women can pursue justice,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “By herself, Betty Dukes is fighting a Goliath, but by banding together with other women and having AAUW stand behind her, she has a strong, powerful voice in the struggle for equity and fairness.”
In 2001, Dukes and other lead plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in order to pursue the case as a class action. Wal-Mart appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, then to a three-judge panel of the same court, and then to the full court en banc, all affirming the district court’s decision. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. A decision in favor of Dukes and the other lead plaintiffs would open the door for these women to pursue their discrimination case.
AAUW is a leader in the fight for pay equity. The alleged gender discrimination in pay in this case contributed to AAUW’s decision to support the lead plaintiffs. The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund offersfinancial and organizational support for workplace-based cases that have the potential to provide significant protection for all women. Since 1981, LAF has disbursed nearly $2 million to more than 100 plaintiffs to help offset their legal fees in sex discrimination cases and has been instrumental to the success of many cases.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since AAUW’s founding 130 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW’s commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.