387 F.Supp. 980 (C.D.Cal. 1975), Civ. 73-2272, Manhart v. City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Water and Power

Docket Nº:Civ. 73-2272
Citation:387 F.Supp. 980
Party Name:Manhart v. City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Water and Power
Case Date:January 15, 1975
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit, Central District of California

Page 980

387 F.Supp. 980 (C.D.Cal. 1975)

Marie MANHART et al., Plaintiffs,


CITY OF LOS ANGELES, DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND POWER, a body corporate and politic, et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. 73-2272-HP.

United States District Court, C.D. California.

Jan. 15, 1975

Page 981

Katherine Stoll Burns, Los Angeles, Cal., for individual plaintiffs and Committee to Protect Women's Retirement Benefits.

Robert M. Dohrmann, Michael Evan Gold, Schwartz, Steinsapir & Dohrmann, Los Angeles, Cal., for Plaintiff, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union No. 18.

Burt Pines, City Atty., Edward C. Farrell, Chief Asst. City Atty., Madeleine I. Flier, Gilbert W. Lee, Deputy City Attys., Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants.


PREGERSON, District Judge.

This matter arises upon a motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs, Marie Manhart, Carolyn Mayshack, and other employees of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power initiated this action against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power because female employees of the Department are required to make larger monthly contributions than their male counterparts in

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order to receive the same monthly retirement benefits as these male employees. In plaintiffs' view, this practice violates § 703 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2 (West 1974). According to defendants, however, this differentiation between male and female employees is justified by actuarial tables which indicate that women as a class tend to live longer than men and that therefore female employees are likely to receive retirement benefits for a longer duration than their male counterparts. In short, defendants argue that women should pay more to get more.

In order to issue a preliminary injunction, the court must make the following determinations: (1) that plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits, (2) that plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm without preliminary relief, (3) that defendants will not be unduly injured by the injunction, and (4) that an injunction promotes the public interest. Seamen v. Spring Lake Park Independent School District No. 16, 363 F.Supp. 944, 945 (D.Minn.1973); United States v. Local 638, 337 F.Supp. 217, 220 (S.D.N.Y.1972). See King v. Saddleback Junior College Dist., 425 F.2d 426 (9th Cir. 1970).

The major question on this motion is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. To make this determination, the court must decide whether the Department's practice of requiring women to make larger monthly contributions to the retirement plan than men constitutes '(discrimination) against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex . . .' within the meaning of § 703(a)(1) of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (West 1974).

Several sources of authority support the conclusion that the Department's practice in question here constitutes sexual discrimination under § 703(a)(1). Initially, it should be pointed out that this section applies to retirement plans. Bartmess v. Drewrys USA, Inc., 444 F.2d 1186 (7th Cir. 1971); Rosen v. Public Service Electric & Gas Co., 477 F.2d 90 (3d Cir. 1973). Moreover, current regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued under the authority of § 713 of the Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-12 (West 1974), not only suggest that § 703(a)(1) applies in this case, but also indicate that the Department's practice gives rise to sexual discrimination. According to these current regulations, 'it shall not be a defense under Title VII to a charge of sex discrimination in benefits that the cost of such benefits is greater with respect to one sex than the other,' 29 C.F.R. § 1604.9(e), and 'it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to have a pension or retirement plan . . . which differentiates in benefits on the basis of sex.' 29 C.F.R. § 1604.9(f).

The EEOC has recently applied these standards to an analogous case in which retired female employees received lower monthly payments under their annuities than their male counterparts. Decision No. 74-118, CCH EEOC Decisions P6431 (Employment Practices Guide, 1974). Under the facts of that case, female employees had contributed the same amounts for the annuity benefits as male employees. In rejecting the argument that equalization of monthly payments would discriminate against males, who, as a class, would receive less because they tend to die sooner, and in favor of females, who would receive more because they generally die later, the EEOC stated:

A argues that equal payments to female retirees would in fact discriminate in their favor because females, statistically, live longer than men. The...

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