Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker is this week understood to be gearing up to defend Wal-Mart in the largest civil rights action ever brought against a private employer in the US.
Californian District Judge Martin Jenkins decided on 22 June that a sex discrimination lawsuit led by seven women could be expanded to include up to 1.6 million current and former Wal-Mart employees across the US.
The lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart discriminates against women and retaliates against women who complain about their treatment. Now that the class action has been approved, any woman who has worked in a Wal-Mart store since 26 December 1998 can join the action.
Wal-Mart issued a statement saying that it would appeal against the decision of Judge Jenkins.
Six firms are representing the plaintiffs, including Washington DC class action specialists Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll. Cohen Milstein attorney Joseph Sellers is co-lead counsel alongside Brad Seligman of the Impact Fund, a Californian non-profit organisation.
On the impact of the class action, Sellers said: “The decision has significance in showing the way for other courts and other individuals that because an employer is a large company, it’s not exempt from the law. I’m hoping it will cause other companies to examine their personnel practices.”