Retail giant Walmart has welcomed the dismissal of the biggest sex discrimination case ever by the US Supreme Court, arguing that the company has made “tremendous strides” in helping women employees.

The court ruled that the 10-year-old case, filed on behalf of up to 1.6m women, was too big to bring to trial, unanimously deciding that it failed to meet the required standard for class action suits.

The decision still allows the women involved to bring cases against Walmart on an individual basis, but a majority of judges said those involved did not have enough in common to link their claims.

The case takes its name from Betty Dukes, on whose behalf (along with five other Walmart workers) the original case was filed in 2001.

Welcoming the decision, Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president, people at Walmart US, said: “Clearly, today’s ruling in the Dukes case has important legal implications but, just as important, it pulls the rug out from under the accusations made against Walmart over the last 10 years. 

“Walmart has a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates and, over the years, we have made tremendous strides in developing women throughout the organisation.”