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Fourth Circuit Reverses Trial Court in Dollar Store Discrimination Case

Fifty-one female Dollar Store managers filed a class action complaint, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, alleging that they were paid less than male store managers, in violation of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

In July 2010, Family Dollar moved for summary judgment, but the court stayed the motion pending the completion of discovery. In August of the same year, Family Dollar moved for a protective order with respect to class certification discovery, which the court denied. From January to July 2011, the parties attempted to resolve their dispute through mediation, which turned out being unsuccessful.

In September 2011, the case was assigned to a different judge. Family Dollar filed, again, their motion to dismiss and/or strike the class allegations. Family Dollar argued that Wal-Mart v. Duke foreclosed Appellants' class allegations and the relief sought in their complaint. 131 S. Ct. 2541, 180 L. Ed. 2d 374 (2011). The district court, this time, granted Family Dollar's motion to dismiss and denied Appellants' request for leave to amend their complaint.

The 4th Circuit, interpreting the facts of this case and addressing Wal-Mart v. Duke, held that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' request. Plaintiffs were permitted to amend their original complaint and the case was reversed and remanded for reconsideration of whether the amended complaint satisfies class certification requirements.

The 4th Circuit's opinion can be found at Scott v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., 733 F.3d 105 (4th Cir. 2013).

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