A federal appeals court panel has given new life to a nationwide lawsuit against Family Dollar. In that case, thousands of current or former female store managers were claiming they were paid less than their male peers. By a 2-1 vote last month, the three-judge panel from the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned a 2011 ruling by a Charlotte federal judge that had effectively ended the case. The decision pumps new life into a nationwide, gender-discrimination claim against the Charlotte-based business.

The company has asked to have the ruling reviewed by the full appeals court. The case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The complaint against Family Dollar, which operates 7,500 stores in 44 states and employs more than 50,000 workers, was filed in 2008. The 4th Circuit panel, reviewing a district court ruling, said that the complaint, as amended, met the “Walmart” standards.

The case will be allowed to proceed. In a prepared statement, the company said it “works hard to maintain a workplace free of discrimination” and expressed pride “that the majority of our store managers are women.” Family Dollar believes the “class treatment of the lawsuit is not appropriate,” the statement said, while pointing out that the appeals court did not address whether the claims of gender discrimination are true.

A year ago, Family Dollar settled a lawsuit with 1,700 store managers in New York who claimed that the company failed to pay them overtime. In 2009, following a class-action lawsuit in Alabama, Family Dollar paid $48 million to company managers who did not receive overtime pay. It’s likely the 4th Circuit’s ruling in the case will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: Charlotte Observer

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