EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: Company in court, help with apps and more

Nov. 24, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

A North Carolina company with four stores in Lee County is once again embroiled in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against female employees.

Family Dollar, which is based in Matthews and has stores in and around Sanford as well as in Pittsboro, Siler City, Carthage and other local towns, is facing accusations that male managers make, on average, about $2,500 more per year than female managers. Female store managers also claim they're often subjectively passed over for promotion by regional managers.

Since 2009, the company has paid out more than $60 million in unrelated lawsuits in Alabama and New York for requiring managers to work overtime but not paying them overtime.

A Charlotte judge had effectively ended the discrimination case two years ago, but an appeals court panel recently reinstated the case, the Charlotte Observer has reported, adding: "Attorneys for both sides say the case could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court."

Family Dollar claims that more than half of its managers are women, and that the company works hard to avoid discrimination.

In other news...

* Have a smart phone but confused by all the apps, or worried that you're missing out on some useful ones? The Chatham County Chamber of Commerce is here to help. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3, a luncheon at the Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro will cover the top apps for both business and personal use on iPhones, Androids and other phones and tablets. The luncheon is free (except for what you get to eat), but people are still asked to RSVP by Dec. 2 by emailing info@ccucc.net.

* Tyson Foods, whose plant in Sanford is one of the largest local employers, is going through several changes at the top levels. The company's Chief Operating Officer and special advisor to the CEO are both retiring in 2014, and the company is responding by creating eight new high level management positions. Going forward, the company has said it plans to grow its operations.

* It's still unclear exactly when hydraulic fracturing will happen in North Carolina and what it'll look like if it does happen, but companies are betting big on the natural gas which fracking produces. One large West Virginia energy company recently sold half of its coal mine production to focus more on natural gas, and Duke Energy Carolinas is discussing building a new natural gas-fueled 750 megawatt power plant. A line of natural gas 18-wheelers is expected to sell 10,000 units in 2014 — up from 2,500 this year — and Ford, GM and Chevy all have at least one pickup truck which can run partially on natural gas.

* Business fluctuations: In the last week, four corporations formed in Lee County — Brooks and Dunston Practice Management Company, Full Spectrum Racing N.C., Michael's Best Enterprises and Tatum Builders of N.C. — and one corporation, Just Relax Spa Events, was dissolved.

Have business news? Contact Will Doran at wdoran@sanfordherald.com or (919) 718-1217.