Since the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, attorneys have debated the scope and impact of the decision. Not surprisingly, plaintiffs’ counsel have argued that the decision was limited to its facts, or to discrimination cases, or to cases involving nationwide claims. And they have argued that Wal-Mart has no application whatsoever to wage-hour class actions and collective actions. In only a few words, the Supreme Court may have answered some of these questions.
Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court quietly vacated a $7.7 million award in a wage-hour class action in Chinese Daily News v. Wang, remanding the case to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Wal-Mart. While the Supreme Court did not provide any further analysis or guidance, and while the Ninth Circuit’s ultimate ruling cannot be predicted, the vacation order alone would seem to undermine a few of the arguments that many plaintiffs’ counsel have been making since Wal-Mart was decided – particularly that Wal-Mart was limited to its facts and has no application to wage-hour matters. Simply, if the Supreme Court believed Wal-Mart was not applicable to wage-hour claims, there would have been no reason to vacate Chinese Daily News.