The Financial Landscape: Court Wins for Wal-Mart, Power Companies

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The Financial Landscape: Supreme Court Wins for Wal-Mart, Power CompaniesAll Business at the Supreme Court: The Roberts Supreme Court that brought us the Citizens United decision continued its corporatist streak Monday, handing down two key decisions that were certain to please the Chamber of Commerce. First, in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, the justices ruled in favor of the nation's largest employer, quashing a class-action suit that had been filed on behalf of more than a million-and-a-half current and former female Wal-Mart (WMT) employees. According to the majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, "the plaintiffs failed to provide proof of a common company-wide policy of discrimination," a necessary component of certifying a class. Four justices -- including all three women on the court -- disagreed: "Wal-Mart's delegation of discretion over pay and promotions is a policy uniform throughout all stores," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote for the minority. In a separate part of the ruling, the court was unanimous in dismissing the plaintiffs' claims to back pay: "Wal-Mart is entitled to individualized determinations of each employee's eligibility for back pay," Scalia wrote.

The court also considered an attempt by several states and private land trusts to fight climate change by filing public nuisance lawsuits against utilities. Justices were unanimous in dismissing the effort. Only the federal government, it seems, can regulate greenhouse gases. Not that it has been doing so: The EPA is set to issue its regulations of power plant emissions by next year. (A first phase of regulation began in January, after Congress failed to pass a climate change bill, but those regs apply only to new and modified plants. The states were suing over existing facilities.)

Though it's good news for the power companies involved -- American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL), Southern Co. (SO), and the Tennessee Valley Authority -- the effects of the latter decision seem limited: only six states were involved in the effort. (The decision does raise the stakes somewhat for the attempts by congressional Republicans, and some Democrats, to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.)

But commentators seem to agree that the Wal-Mart decision is something of a landmark, making it significantly harder for people to join together to form a class and file suit against a large corporation. In his majority opinion, Scalia credited Wal-Mart with having an official corporate policy against discrimination. "The women of Wal-Mart," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, "together with women everywhere, will now face a far steeper road to challenge and correct pay and other forms of discrimination in the workplace." Though Wal-Mart dodged what could have been billions of dollars in damages, it could still face further class action litigation from smaller, more specific groups of workers and former employees.

Another Greek Debt Crisis Wrinkle:
Fitch Ratings potentially complicated the efforts of European finance ministers to rescue Greece by announcing that it would consider any voluntary rollover of Greece's sovereign debt to be a default. Such measures are being considered as part of a second bailout package for the beleaguered country. Fitch also joined competitor Moody's in warning that the United States risks a downgrade of its credit rating as the specter of default continues to haunt debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.



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lovelatinmales

THANKS, SEPREME COURT... WAY TO STICK YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND AND YOUR HAND INTO BIG BUSINESS' POCKETS... YOU ARE NOT HELPING. YOU KNOW WHAT WAL-MART... / ( BIG BUSINESS) IS BUT IT IS EASY TO TURN A BLIND EYE. YOU'RE NOT HELPING WITH YOUR SHORT SITED JUDGEMENTS. THE WORKER IS GETTING SCREWED, WE NEED YOU TO DO YOUR JOB OR JUST GET OUT, YOU'RE NOT HELPING! CAN WE GET A LITTLE FAIRNESS HERE OR IS THAT TO MUCH TO ASK...

June 28 2011 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BOB

what did you expect from the Roberts court..the right wing court has never sided w/an individual or a class action against a large corp. since Roberts became chief justice..and thats going on several years now...is this a pattern?...yeah! They didnt even consider a smaller class action suit could be brought against Walmart.. its a sham and a shame

June 24 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Guess you Walmart gals will have to play the lotter since you can't win big by suing someone.

June 23 2011 at 10:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
madddddddddddddd

TIS IS GONNA LEAD TO UNIONS AT WALMRT,,,,,,,,,,,,MGT THERE IS GETTING DUMBER EVERY YEAR.............

WHY DOES WAL MART HATE GALS??? A VERY WEIRD VIEW OF GALSW...................

June 23 2011 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

This is the rot that the Republicans have produced in the last 25 years with their so-called Tax-Cut Reaganomics:

David Stockman, Reagan's Budget Director :

"We had a 30 year spree of phoney prosperity in this country."

"In 1985, the top five percent of the households – the wealthiest five percent – had net worth of $8 trillion – which is a lot. Today, serial bubble after serial bubble, the top five per cent have net worth of $40 trillion. The top five per cent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980."

"A one time 15% wealth tax would cut the deficit in HALF !"

**********­**********­**********­**********­**********­********

"This debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts."

"If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politician­s, the Republican push to extend the unaffordab­le Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing."

**********­**********­**********­**********­**********­********

"It is a measure of how far off base both parties are - but especially the Republican­s - they had a chance to cut spending for 8 years and Bush didn't veto a single spending bill. They had a chance to cut entitlemen­ts and what did they do ? Nothing. They added Medicare Part D drug benefit, the largest entitlemen­t expansion since the 60's."

**********­**********­**********­**********­**********­********
Can we now finally put to bed the Reaganite Kool-Aid about "free markets", "trickle down economics"­, "deficits don't matter" and "Governmen­t is the problem ?”

This from a Republican!!!!!

June 22 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment
savemycountry911

Reaganomics is SO MUCH better than Obamanomics.

June 23 2011 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Oil Trader

I discovered this secret 4 years ago and now I'm revealing it to anybody who wants to learn, the fact that the entire Oil market doesn't really go up and down in price by the dynamics of buying and selling, but rather is controlled by a computer. Now this is your chance to use this corruption for your own benefit and trade Oil from the comforts of your own home and make a great living doing so. Are you ready to join the revolution? Google my website "Oil Trading Academy".

June 22 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
gbelter777

yup

June 21 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
LEE Resolution

Good for Walmart. Glad the won. It's about time the Court brought some sanity into the business world.

June 21 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to LEE Resolution's comment
chris1011

Walmart, the giant whose low-wage employees typically earn so little that many rely upon food stamps, say labor experts. Another wonderful American story: Taxpayers subsidizing giant, publicly traded corporations by keeping their low-wage employees alive.

June 22 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lovelatinmales

YEA, WHEN YOU ARE WORKING 50 HOURS AND GETTING PAID FOR 30... LETS SEE HOW THAT FEELS. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING? ARE YOU IN THIS JOB MARKET OR ARE YOU WHERE IT DOES NOT EFFECT YOU. EITHER WAY, YOU ARE WRONG AND NEED TO READ UP ON YOUR SAYING... GET A JOB AT WAL-MART AND SEE HOW THAT GOES... INEPT!!!

June 28 2011 at 11:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
harolddundee

The supreme court is just like all the other courts in America,for sale to the highest bidder which in this case was WalMart.

June 21 2011 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
peapers

"Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."
- Thomas Jefferson

June 21 2011 at 4:20 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply