What major gender or racial discrimination cases have failed, and why?
August 25, 2017 11:53 AM   Subscribe

In the aftermath of the Ellen Pao case, I'm interested in other major gender or racial discrimination cases that have failed. What is the reason these cases fail?

And what would the plaintiffs have needed in order to succeed?
posted by Mystical Listicle to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The Walmart sexual discrimination case was eventually settled; it was undermined by the class being decertified.

I can't track down exact links right now; IIRC, part of the logic in decertifying the class was basically "but there are so many women employees! You can't claim they were all discriminated against!"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:10 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I think I remember hearing that Wal-mart, when promoting someone from rank and file to first level supervisor the corporate policy was for the employee to be moved to a different store. The policy makes sense because of the fact that your prior co-workers might be your friends and there could be problems with favoritism. And I think it was suggested that women declined to move more than men did. I think this is one explanation Wal-mart offered for why they have fewer women in management roles, this narrowing right at the beginning of the pipeline. (I can't source this.)
posted by puddledork at 12:21 PM on August 25


Lilly Ledbetter won Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in District Court but the verdict was reversed by the Court of Appeals. The reversal was upheld by the Supreme Court, but that was superseded (although she didn't benefit) by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
posted by djb at 12:26 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I used to practice in this area of law. For jury trials (like Pao) they fail because the evidence can be highly subjective, and hence the jury or judge may interpret it differently. The "smoking gun" cases never make it to trial. And when they do, sometimes it's just because the defendant is particularly nasty and just declares bankruptcy at the end after you've spent all the money to litigate.

Other cases fail due to legal interpretations, not facts (like Walmart and Ledbetter). But that's not to say there are not many strong cases upholding anti-discrimination laws. The laws are clearly enough written that (until recently) there were a lot of good, solid, employee-friendly decisions on the law. Compared to other areas of laws I've worked it, it's a veritable treasure chest.
posted by yarly at 1:06 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I mean, you should probably start with Plessy v. Ferguson. You might also be interested in reading United States v. Virginia (the VMI case), especially for the dissent.
posted by saladin at 1:20 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Maybe too far back, but the Dred Scott case stands out.
posted by lunasol at 11:08 PM on August 25


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