For employers and their counsel who insist that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), is a silver bullet against Title VII discrimination class actions, today's decision in the McReynolds case was not good news. The Seventh Circuit sweeps past the employer's arguments and holds that the district court erred by not certifying a Rule 23 class action in a disparate-impact race discrimination case.
The defense bar has been so high on its success in defeating the Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes class action last spring that its lawyers fanned out across the county, trying to persuade judges everywhere that the era of employment class actions was over. Yet the Seventh Circuit held against this tide, affirming certification of an Illinois state-law Rule 23 class action in a wage-and-hour case, finding that the conditions of Rule 23(c)(1)(B) were met.
In a recent decision, Judge Wood distinguishes Supreme Court precedent to find an arbitration agreement that did not provide for class arbitration invalid under Second Circuit precedent because it foreclosed the exercise of statutory rights. Reaffirming her initial decision, Judge Wood determined defendant's reliance on the intervening decision of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion ("Concepcion") in seeking reconsideration was misplaced.