Wal-Mart v. Dukes: 7 Employment Takeaways from the Recent Supreme Court Ruling

Unless you’ve recently returned from a trip to the moon, you have heard of the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes discrimination class action lawsuit. This landmark decision addresses several important issues relating to all class action lawsuits, and provides important insights towards implementing human resources best-practices.

The Wal-Mart case impacts the way employers address human resources practices, and other HR policies and procedures. Even if a company has recently updated its employee manual and management practices, they should once again review these policies in light of the Wal-Mart decision. Here are seven important actions they should consider implementing to comply with EEOC anti-discrimination policies, and to protect themselves against future class actions, or any other discrimination related lawsuits.

  1. Carefully review pay and promotion policies to determine whether or not they could be misconstrued as favoring one class over another.
  2. Eliminate all subjective decision-making processes by clearly linking promotions, demotions, raises or bonuses to objective goals and job performance.
  3. Ensure that all managers who are tasked with performance appraisals are properly trained on the relevant labor laws, proper employment practices and appropriate decision making processes.
  4. For those employees who have been turned down the possibility of a promotion, or who were denied a raise, consider implementing an appeal process.
  5. Investigate, and implement, other corporate policies with the purpose of increasing diversity in the workplace, and preventing discriminatory practices.
  6. Continue to train and communicate corporate policies to the staff, particularly in the areas addressing anti-discrimination practices, career growth opportunities, and the ability to access further education.
  7. Take employee complaints seriously, document your response and follow up, and be sure to address each issue on its own individual merits.

As we have witnessed time and again, the playing field of employment law continues to change and evolve. The rules are not static, and employers must make all efforts to remain abreast to these changes, and recognize how they impact their human resources practices in the workplace. When in doubt, prior to making any employment decision, it always recommended to consult with a human resources consulting expert or labor attorney. The short term cost will be well spent in protecting against long term expenses.