When the New York Times reported last month that Wal-Mart had brazenly been bribing government officials in Mexico, the public responded with anger. According to the Washington Post, the outcry forced the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to slow its campaign to water down the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the 1977 law that bars payoffs to foreign decision-makers in exchange for business. The agitation also led to a 5 percent drop in the price of Wal-Mart stock. But one group seemed decidedly less bothered by the reports of Wal-Mart’s misdeeds: corporate America.
[Guest post by Chloë Schama] Although I did not follow the case very closely, I’m of mixed minds about the dismissal yesterday of the class action case filed by Bloomberg LP employees, claiming discrimination against women who took maternity leave. On the surface, it seems to be of a piece with the Supreme Court’s recent dismissal of class action suit against Wal-Mart—and a further blow to efforts at addressing gender-based workplace discrimination.
In the months leading up to his declared presidential candidacy, Rick Perry was busy shoring up his religious bonafides. In April, while his state burned under 8,000 wildfires and was afflicted by a pernicious drought, the governor decreed three days of prayer to call rain down from the heavens.
In April 2000, a Vermont musician named Diana Levine went to the hospital with a migraine. There, a nurse incorrectly injected Phenergan, an anti-nausea drug, into her vein rather than her muscle. This led to gangrene and, eventually, the amputation of much of her right arm. Levine sued and won more than $6 million from a Vermont jury, which concluded that Wyeth, the drug company, had failed to warn her properly about the risks of the drug.
When I first started looking into Wal-Mart as a reporter several years ago, what bothered me the most was the cynicism of the company. Gosh, we didn’t know that our outsourced maintenance people were illegal immigrants. Gosh, we didn’t know that store managers were subtly demanding unpaid overtime. Gosh, we didn’t know that we had a really bad supplier in China that abused its workers. Wal-Mart was always shocked, shocked, shocked.
[Guest post by Chloe Schama:] Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a class-action case that NPR called “the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.” The description is actually a bit misleading: From a legal standpoint, the issue in Dukes v. Wal-Mart is standing: whether or not hundreds of thousands of women—upon whose behalf former Wal-Mart employee Betty Dukes had filed the case—could band together and sue for damages. Or, as Richard Thompson Ford put it in Slate, “[W]hat’s at stake in Dukes v.
Cancún, Mexico—Another year, another round of U.N. climate talks. This year's discussions in Cancún are likely to end much as last year's haggling in Copenhagen did—without a firm global treaty to stop drastic climate change. But the stalemate has led to an intriguing side development: Large, multinational corporations are starting to play an outsized role in the negotiations. If world leaders can't agree on how best to cut carbon emissions (and, so far, it's not clear they can), then the world's CEOs may start taking the lead.