American judges have blocked a landmark sex discrimination case against Walmart.

The world’s largest retailer was facing a class action that could have involved up to 1.5m women that had worked for it over the past decade.

But the US Supreme Court yesterday blocked the action, which claimed that Walamart systematically paid female staff less and overlooked them for promotions.

"Because respondents provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy, we have concluded that they have not established the existence of any common question," Justice Antonin Scalia ruled.

Had the class action gone ahead, it would have represented the biggest suit of its kind in US legal history. Female plaintiffs wishing to sue Walmart for discrimination could yet go ahead on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, the head of Walmart’s Japanese business, Toru Noda, has quit after just a year at the helm.

Although Noda said he was stepping aside for personal reasons, the move is likely to raise questions over the US giant’s strategic direction in the key Asian market.

Read more
Fresh & Easy’s friendly new neighbour: Walmart Express (analysis; 11 June 2011)
Walmart will take Africa ‘one city at time’ (6 June 2011)