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Wal-Mart discrimination suit ruled "too large" to hear by Supreme Court

POSTED: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 2:43pm

Female employees claim Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores discriminated against them, but the Supreme Court said they cannot include every woman who works at both stores in an enormous lawsuit.

In a unanimous decision, the high court blocked the massive sex discrimination suit against the world's largest retailer, ruling the suit was simply too big, with too many questions from discrimination to back pay, making the class action unmanageable.

The suit could have united more than a 1.5 million women, claiming the retail giant paid them less and didn't promote them.

But in what was a 5 to 4 part of the decision, the court ruled plaintiffs hadn't proved a common tie for all women at Wal-Mart.

The court acknowledged Wal-Mart had a written anti-discrimination policy. The justices didn't rule on the merits of the discrimination case, only whether it could be a class action suit, leaving some experts to call the ruling pro-business.

Plaintiffs have vowed to continue their fight, either as individuals or in different sized classes.

Audio outcue: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, washington.

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