Congress needs to pass legislation to restore workers’ rights to combat widespread discrimination. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decimated this right to file class-action suits in its infamous Walmart decision.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Supreme Court dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought by a group of female Walmart employees, despite strong evidence of discrimination. Women comprise 70 percent of Walmart’s hourly workers but only 33 percent of managers. There are even fewer women in higher-level and better-paid management jobs, and women are paid less in every region.

In its decision, the Supreme Court placed significant hurdles for any group of employees to join together to fight discrimination in the workplace. As a result, courts have refused to certify class actions alleging sex or race discrimination against such employers as Costco, Family Dollar Stores, Nucor, and Lockheed Martin.

To mark the anniversary of that decision, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and 40 other lawmakers introduced the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act of 2012, which would restore workers’ rights to band together to fight systemic workplace discrimination.

Supporters of the Walmart decision may say that the Supreme Court ruling protects employers and the legal system from frivolous lawsuits that bog down the legal system. However, class actions can actually increase the efficiency of the legal process by avoiding the necessity of repeating witnesses, exhibits and issues in multiple trials.

What’s more, without group actions, many employees would find it difficult to finance an individual case or hire an attorney to take such a case.

For more than 40 years, class actions have played a crucial role in achieving racial and gender justice. When employers have systemwide policies, the only meaningful way to bring about change is through court-ordered relief applicable to a whole class of workers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act of 2012 would ensure that employees have the tools to come together to combat continuing workplace discrimination through group actions.

If Congress wants to restore its credibility with the American people and show that it truly is a body that represents all citizens, then we urge it to stand up for American workers to ensure that they have the ability to band together to fight for their rights — and against discrimination.

Jane Dolkart is the senior counsel for the Employment Discrimination Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Kim Hayes does communications and development for the group. They can be reached at

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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