If the lawsuit had officially gained class action status, it could have included up to 1.6 million women. Such a case could have potentially left Wal-Mart owing billions of dollars in settlements or judgments. Other American companies were equally alarmed at the precedent such a massive class action suit could have set. In March, major businesses like Bank of America
Still, the Supreme Court's decision might not be as much of a relief as investors think, and Wal-Mart could still be in a jam. The company has long endured a negative reputation for worker relations, one it can't seem to shake. Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision on this element of the legal action, the case has made headlines on major news outlets, publicizing its allegations that Wal-Mart has blocked equal pay and denied earned promotions to women throughout the company.
Don't underestimate the court of public opinion. Some consumers could decide that Wal-Mart's low prices aren't worth the disrespect the company allegedly directs toward its female employees.
The last thing Wal-Mart needs right now are major dings on its corporate reputation. It's still struggling to rev up its U.S. sales, and competition is cutthroat -- even without giving consumers other reasons to look down on its stores.
What do you think? Will a public relations mess like this ultimately lead to an even more dificult time for Wal-Mart in the future? Or do Wal-Mart's low prices shield it from too much blowback? State your case in the comments box below.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Altria, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of and has opened a short position on Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart, and creating diagonal call positions in Intel, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. For more on this and other topics, check back at Fool.com, or follow her on Twitter: @AlyceLomax. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.