Speaking Out for Fair Employment Opportunities

By Mali Kranz, JWI Intern

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) led a rally this Wednesday, the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dukes v. Walmart case. Women’s rights activists expressed their disappointment in the ruling in Walmart’s favor, which said that Walmart’s female employees could not bring a class action lawsuit to fight gender discrimination in promotions and pay. This ruling set a harmful precedent for future discrimination cases. Participants showed their support for the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, which would reverse the damage done by the Walmart case and allow class action suits of this type.

The rally’s featured speaker, Betty Dukes, spoke out against the Supreme Court decision. “I do not think the ruling was fair. I do not think the ruling was just,” Dukes told the crowd. “Together in solidarity, we are a strong force to be reckoned with… It is time we take a stand for righteousness and justice for women everywhere.”

While Dukes, who traveled from California for the rally, said that she was grateful to all the people who came out in support, however she added that she was “hoping for a larger presence of women. If you have no voice, then your voice is your consent, and I am not consenting to their ruling. I think it was unjust then, and I think it’s unjust a year later.”

The landmark Betty Dukes v. Walmart case was the largest civil rights class action suit in the country when Dukes sued Walmart, her employer, for gender and pay discrimination. Dukes realized that despite her six years as a Walmart employee, she had not been offered the same promotional opportunities as her male colleagues. According to an article in The New Yorker, “at the time, women comprised about seventy-two percent of the sales workforce and just a third of management—and an even lesser percentage of upper management.”

Organizations in attendance included Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women and Families, and Alliance for Justice.

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