* Wal-Mart women plaintiffs in a Calif. federal court
* First hearing since landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling
SAN FRANCISCO, July 22 Attorneys for Wal-Mart
and women suing the retail giant for discrimination returned to
court on Friday for the first time since a landmark U.S.
Supreme Court ruling.
The two sides discussed how long to give women to sue the
company if they hadn't already filed a lawsuit.
Women who say Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) denied them pay
raises and promotions because of gender bias are regrouping
after the Supreme Court dismantled a class of up to 1.5 million
current and former Wal-Mart workers last month.
Had the class-action lawsuit gone forward, Wal-Mart could
have been liable for billions of dollars in back pay and other
damages. The high court concluded that the group did not have
enough in common to band together to sue the company.
Plaintiff lawyers want to bring multiple, narrower
class-action claims against the retailer, while Wal-Mart wants
each case to be litigated individually.
At a brief hearing on Friday in a San Francisco federal
court, plaintiff attorney Joseph Sellers argued for a January
deadline for women who filed complaints against Wal-Mart with
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but who had
not yet sued.
Wal-Mart attorney Theodore Boutrous argued for an October
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer did not rule from the
bench, but indicated he was leaning toward Wal-Mart's
Boutrous said the company is prepared to look at the cases
that come in and deal with them "in a fair way."
The case is Betty Dukes et al v Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of California,
(Reporting by Dan Levine. Editing by Robert MacMillan)