SAN FRANCISCO -- Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., won a delay of several months in the start of a trial in a gender-discrimination lawsuit here to allow its appeal of a class certification to proceed.
A federal judge had certified the case as a class action in June, prompting Wal-Mart to appeal that ruling to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals here and asking that a trial not proceed until the appeal was heard. Last week's action by the U.S. District Court judge freezes all forward motion in the trial until the appeals court rules on Wal-Mart's request.
In a prepared statement, Wal-Mart said it was pleased the court granted its request for a stay. "We have very strong arguments on appeal, and if we prevail, it will eliminate the need for much if not all of this burdensome discovery, so the district court's stay order makes sense for all of the parties and the courts."
An attorney for the plaintiffs told SN the Ninth Circuit has scheduled arguments to begin in January, and those are likely to proceed for a couple of months after that, "so it looks like any decision on the class certification is six to nine months away," he said.
The suit, filed in 2001, charges that Wal-Mart discriminates against its female employees in pay and promotions. The class potentially includes more than 1.6 million current and former female employees at various Wal-Mart formats.