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Wal-Mart discrimination case can continue

California residents who work for Wal-Mart may be interested to learn that a class action lawsuit originally rejected in 2011 gained new life in 2015. The case, which was previously denied status as a nationwide class action lawsuit by the U.S. Supreme Court, eventually manifested as a number of smaller regional lawsuits.

The Supreme Court rejected the original case after deciding that the employees who filed it couldn't prove that Wal-Mart nationally discriminated against female workers as a matter of policy. After a smaller lawsuit was filed, a Tennessee district court said that it was barred under the statute of limitations, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed the lower court's decision based on the fact that the original action had tolled the statute.

The appellate court's decision could also hold interesting ramifications for other class action suits that are similar in nature. In most cases, a class action lawsuit tolls, or delays the statute of limitations, for related offshoot cases. When courts decide not to grant class action certification, some jurisdictions prohibit further tolling, but in rejecting this so-called bright-line rule, the court might have opened the doors for additional regional lawsuits.

Unfair treatment in the workplace takes many forms. With the ability to file different kinds of suits and complaints also comes a number of special requirements dictating the manner in which cases are brought before courts. Factors like the statute of limitations and the existence of similar legal actions might mean that specific cases end up being denied on technical grounds, and thus those who have been affected by workplace discrimination may find it advisable to speak with an employment law attorney at the outset to determine how best to proceed.

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