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4th Cir. revives suit against Family Dollar

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against North Carolina-based Family Dollar that says female managers were paid less than male store managers.

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned a Charlotte federal judge’s ruling two years ago that had effectively ended the case, The Charlotte Observer reported.

An attorney representing about 50 store managers, Roberts Wiggins of Birmingham, Ala., says the Matthews-based company discriminates against female managers.

Wiggins says pay discrepancies between male and female store managers averaged about $2,500 a year, about 10 percent of their pay.

Family Dollar has asked the full appeals court consider the case.

Attorneys for both sides say the case could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Family Dollar operates about 7,500 stores across the country, with more than 50,000 employees.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn had refused to allow lawyers for the women managers to update their lawsuit to comply with a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case involving Wal-Mart. Cogburn ruled the pay for the Family Dollar store managers appeared to be the product of “subjective, individualized decisions.”

The 4th Circuit panel said Cogburn was wrong to refuse to allow changes in the lawsuit.

Family Dollar said it “works hard to maintain a workplace free of discrimination” and says it is proud “that the majority of our store managers are women.”