In a recent appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room," Suzette Malveaux, a law professor at Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, says the Wal-Mart case is one of the major ones to watch this year. At the 3:34 mark of the CNN video, Malveaux notes that 1.5 million women are alleging pay and promotion discrimination against Wal-Mart. Malveaux says the question before the high court may appear technical, but that "class action is really important."
Sometimes, Professor Malveaux continues, the class action is the "only way you can challenge nationwide, company-wide misconduct." An individual might not be able to afford a lawyer or might be hesitant to take on an employer. "So there's strength in numbers, and the class action is sometimes the only way people have their day in court," she says.
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial also touched upon the importance of class action lawsuits, saying they "are often the only way to achieve justice for workers who can't -and shouldn't have to - proceed with anti-discrimination claims individually. But whether such suits can go forward depends on a court's determination that there are questions of law and fact common to members of the class. This case is a bold attempt to persuade a conservative Supreme Court to dramatically narrow the criteria for determining what a class is. If Wal-Mart succeeds, victims of discrimination in future cases will find it much more difficult to pursue justice. There is currently no limit on the size of a class, nor should there be."