Monday, June 20, 2011

Justices Unanimously Side with Wal-Mart

Of course, Wal-Mart must hate women. After all, Wal-Mart is a big, powerful corporation run by white men.

Of course, the Duke lacrosse players randomly picked out of a photo line-up by a loon must hate black women enough to rape one of them. After all, they were well-to-do, young, white males. Just ask Amanda Marcotte, she'll tell you.

Of course, the innocent priest who died a broken man in New York last week must have molested a boy 40 years ago. He had previously been accused of raping a girl 25 years ago. After all, he was a priest.

Are you as sick to death as I am of the knee-jerk, visceral stereotyping of men?

I have good news to report: today, rationality won one over knee-jerk, visceral stereotyping: the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously -- please read that word again: unanimously -- rejected a class-action lawsuit charging sex discrimination by Wal-Mart. The court held that female employees in different jobs at 3,400 different stores nationwide and with different supervisors do not have enough in common to be lumped together in a single class-action lawsuit.  "In all," wrote Justice Scalia, "Wal-Mart operates approximately 3,400 stores and employs more than one million people. Because respondents wish to sue about literally millions of employment decisions at once, they need some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together," he said.  They didn't have the glue.

Remember the oral argument in this case where the schlep representing the putative class of women stood before the justices and argued that Wal-Mart had a policy effectively communicated to its managers to discriminate against women? Let me refresh your recollection:

Justice Scalia asked the attorney to explain that policy.

Listen to the reason given by the women's attorney and you will know why this case had no chance of prevailing: ". . . at the Sam Walton Insitute where every manager has to be trained before they become a manager, they provide as a . . . response to a standard question: Why are women so underrepresented, or so few women in management? And the response given was, because men seek advancement, are more aggressive in seeking advancement." 

That "stereotypical statement," the lawyer claimed, "informs their decisions" when they make promotions.

Read it again in case you think your eyes were playing tricks on you. The attorney stated a fact -- a fact that a lot of powerful women's groups don't want to hear -- and cited it as a basis for a class action discrimination suit.

An incredulous Justice Scalia asked the schlep: ". . . how could that possibly cause them to intentionally discriminate on the basis of sex?"  Scalia correctly noted what every thinking person knows: the "policy" cited was nothing more than an assessment of why women aren't promoted as frequently as men; it did not tell managers not to promote women. (If anything, informing managers of this fact would be beneficial to women because it would make Wal-Mart's managers aware that men are at times promoted over women because they are more aggressive -- and not necessarily because of their job performance.)

We have now reached the stage where a case can go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court premised on a fact of life that women's groups don't like.  Fortunately, the justices saw through the bullshit.

Story about the case here; oral argument transcript here -- see pages 30-32.