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A federal appeals court has certified the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. history. In a long-standing dispute against retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. things just took an interesting turn. The dispute is over alleged gender bias in pay and promotions. We’ve all heard of varying pay scales at the work place so this frankly comes as a disappointment, but not a surprise.

The divided 6-5 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday allows the combined multiparty litigation to move ahead to trial, where a decision against the company could result in billions in damages. The Arkansas-based chain of stores has the option of appealing Monday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. At issue is whether more than a million current and former Wal-Mart employees can band together in their claims of discrimination, which they say has occurred over the past decade, at least.The plaintiffs allege that women were paid less than, and were given fewer opportunities for promotion than, their male counterparts. They seek back pay and punitive damages against the world’s largest retailer. This certainly gives you something to think about the next time you have to go shopping.

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