by Kara Platoni
More than two years ago, we brought you the tale of how the Berkeley-based Impact Fund law group brought the nation' s largest civil rights lawsuit against Wal-Mart for discriminating against its female employees, claiming the megaretailer pays women less and promotes them less frequently than their male counterparts. (Several of the lead plaintiffs came from the Bay Area, including Christine Kwapnoski, pictured here.) Wal-Mart sought to handle the cases as individual suits, but the Impact Fund pushed for class action status, which would allow them to litigate on behalf of more than 1.5 million women. Today, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld an earlier, contested ruling that the suit should be given class action status. It could be a very, very costly decision for Wal-Mart.