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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wal-Mart Won’t Have to Face ERISA Suit, Yet

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge dismissed claims that Wal-Mart owes more to its female employees' pension plans since gender discrimination allegedly depressed female wages.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the case not ripe for litigation because the high-profile gender discrimination case is not finished, and the court would have to find proof of gender discrimination to consider the new case.

The U.S. Supreme Court sent such claims, first filed in San Francisco in 2001, back to the drawing board seven months ago after finding that the employees could not proceed as a class.

A year earlier, the 9th Circuit had certified a class of some 1.6 million women to pursue discrimination claims in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the largest civil rights class action filed in United States history.

One of the outgrowths of this case was an ERISA class action Diana Alexander-Jones filed against Wal-Mart. The complaint said the Walmart Retirement Plans Committee breached its fiduciary duties by underpaying company contributions amid suppressed female wages caused by gender discrimination.

Breyer tossed the case Tuesday because the allegations are "entirely dependent on a finding of discrimination and a related denial of contributions that have not yet, and might never happen."

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