The Ninth Circuit has issued its long-awaited, en banc Opinion in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (9th Cir. Apr. 26, 2010). Of course, I have no idea if you were actually waiting for it, so I am only referring to myself. As for how long it took to issue the Opinion, it took some time to write an Opinion that is about 136 pages long. The majority described the holding as follows:
Plaintiffs allege that Wal-Mart, Inc., discriminates against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After detailed briefing and hearing, the district court certified a class encompassing all women employed by Wal-Mart at any time after December 26, 1998, and encompassing all Plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and back pay, while creating a separate opt-out class encompassing the same employees for punitive damages. We affirm the district court’s certification of a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) class of current employees with respect to their claims for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and back pay. With respect to the claims for punitive damages, we remand so that the district court may consider whether to certify the class under Rule 23(b)(2) or (b)(3). We also remand with respect to the claims of putative class members who no longer worked for Wal-Mart when the complaint was filed so that the district court may consider whether to certify an additional class or classes under Rule 23(b)(3).
Slip op., at 6146-47. The massive opinion and dissent are simply too long for me to thoroughly cover this morning. However, Circuit Judge Graber offered this brief comment on the entirety of the opinion:
GRABER, Circuit Judge, concurring:
The majority and the dissent have written scholarly and complete explanations of their positions. What the length of their opinions may mask is the simplicity of the majority’s unremarkable holding:
Current female employees may maintain a Rule 23(b)(2) class action against their employer, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and back pay on behalf of all the current female employees, when they challenge as discriminatory the effects of their employer’s company-wide policies.
If the employer had 500 female employees, I doubt that any of my colleagues would question the certification of such a class. Certification does not become an abuse of discretion merely because the class has 500,000 members. I therefore concur fully in the majority opinion.
Slip op., at 6237-38.
I will write more on this Opinion as soon as I am able, but a quick perusal suggests that this decision will have a lasting impact on certification motions in the Ninth Circuit. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court wants to weigh in on this decision.