While Wal-Mart scored a major victory for employers in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), the former class members are continuing to try and regain some of the ground they lost. As reported here, here, here and here, several district courts have considered whether or not the claims of former Dukes plaintiffs who filed follow-on lawsuits after the landmark decision are time-barred, with varying results.
In the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in Scott v. Family Dollar Stores, the concurrence and dissent sharply disagreed about the significance of the majority opinion. Depending on which opinion you read, Family Dollar is either a sweeping reinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s class action decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes or a narrow holding reiterating the rule in favor of liberal amendment of complaints. Time will tell who is right.
In its recent decision in Scott v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., No. 12-1610 (4th Cir. Oct. 16, 2013), the Fourth Circuit ruled that the district court abused its discretion by refusing to allow plaintiffs asserting claims of gender-based pay discrimination leave to file an amended complaint based upon an erroneous interpretation of the Rule 23(a) commonality requirements for class certification set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011).
Despite blockbuster cases like Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), and Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court, 273 P.3d 513, 527 (Cal. 2012), California remains a hotbed of employment class litigation as a recent spate of cases reflects.
While commentators can, and often do, debate fine points regarding the technical elements of a class action claim, the result in a given case is often dictated by a more fundamental concern. That issue is whether the judge views class action treatment as an exception to the general rule or, instead, as a fundamental right.