Monday, June 20, 2011

Why the Court's Decision For WalMart is Correct

During my career in Human Resources, I had the privilege of being the first Director of Policy and Research for the Pay Equity Commission of Ontario. We did all we could to eliminate discrimination against women when it came to work of equal value (never mind identical work). So you would think I would be against today's decision on the WalMart case. Yet, based on the principles of pay equity and how the necessary remedies are to be identified and implemented, I must tell you the court's decision is correct.

Clearly the decision is not saying the women were not discriminated against. It simply says when you group 1.5 million women together -- from different stores, under different managers, in different states, and most importantly in different jobs -- there is no possible way to determine whether zero, one, a hundred, a thousand, a million, or all of them were discriminated against in accordance with any required legislation, and especially to what extent. That being said, each one is free to file their own lawsuit. (Although, due to costs -- that ain't likely to happen.)

But here's the point. This type of lawsuit would have to result in individual remedies on each and every person involved in the suit given the laws that were reportedly violated. It would literally take decades if not a century to accomplish that in the current legal system. This case is very different than the one that says Bank X systemically broke the law with respect to their customers and thus all those in the law suit are entitled to an award equivalent to Y% of their savings of record on such and such a date. That's doable and fair. That cannot be done in a Pay Equity type of case. All women may have been discriminated against but not in the same way, or to the same extent. Therefore, you cannot apply a single ruling on all. For all of the above, I agree with today's decision.

Here's another account of it . . . and p.s. Walmart did not win a sex-bias case. They won a court-related procedural case.   Also most North Ameican reports speak of 1.5 million women, not 1.0 million.

Walmart wins US sex-bias case - Americas - Al Jazeera English


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