University of Pittsburgh
June 21, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Makes it Harder for Workers to Challenge Employment Discrimination in Court

Pitt law professor comments on the Supreme Court’s decision to block the sex discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The Wal-Mart v. Dukes case “is another in a series of recent Supreme Court decisions that make it harder for workers to challenge employment discrimination in court,” said Jessie Allen, a University of Pittsburgh professor of law whose scholarship focuses on the social impact of adjudication. 

Allen said these cases do not decide what constitutes discriminatory conduct by employers. “They are gatekeeping decisions about the procedural rules that govern what it takes to get any case into federal court, but together they tend to keep job discrimination plaintiffs out of the courthouse,” she explained. 

Prior to joining Pitt, Allen taught at New York University (NYU). During the 2008 election cycle, Allen litigated and advocated against voting barriers as a senior attorney with Advancement Project, a racial justice organization in Washington D.C. Previously, she was a staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, where she worked on judicial policy and litigated criminal disenfranchisement cases, including Johnson v. Bush, a class action challenging Florida’s permanent voting ban for anyone convicted of a felony. 

Allen holds a doctorate in law (JSD) from Columbia University, a JD from Brooklyn Law School, and a BFA in theater from New York University. Following graduation from law school, she clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval, U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Second Circuit (1996-97). She then served as a Bristow Fellow with the Office of the Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice (1997-98), and clerked for Judge Edward R. Korman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (1999-2000). Allen is the author of the blog Blackstoneweekly and has published articles in law reviews in the United States and South Africa and in journals, including Dissent and American Lawyer.



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