By Andy Volin
Although the Supreme Court rejected a nationwide sex discrimination class action in 2011, the female employees (and their lawyers) did not end their long war with against Wal-Mart. The plaintiffs narrowed the geographic scope of the original case to California and filed three new regional class actions around the country. Wal-Mart has contended the new regional class actions are barred by the statute of limitations, while the plaintiffs argue the statute of limitations was tolled since 2001 when they filed the original nationwide case.
Last October, Wal-Mart won this argument in the regional case brought in Texas. This week, the court in the regional case brought in Tennessee also, reluctantly, agreed with Walmart. Phipps v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22684 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 20, 2013). Binding appellate case law prevented the statute of limitations from being tolled during the pendency of the nationwide class for these new, smaller class actions. The Florida court handling the third regional class action has not yet decided the timeliness issue.
The Texas case will go immediately to the court of appeals on this issue, but until then, these latest rulings are good news for Wal-Mart.