On April 25, 1978, the United States Supreme Court decided Los Angeles Department of Water and Power v. Manhart in a way that was bound to have a profound effect on the pension industry. The division of opinion in the Manhart Court was indicative of the difficulty of the question presented. In Part I, this article examines the Court's findings in Manhart, as well as its conclusions in a more recent case, Arizona Governing Committee v. Norris, in which the Supreme Court extended its Manhart holding in a way bound to have an equally significant impact on pension programs. In Parts II and III, this article addresses two issues concerning the future of the pension industry which the Court has left unanswered: whether the relief granted to compensate for past sex discrimination in pension programs is to be retroactive or prospective only; and whether the size of these awards is to be determined by "topping up," i.e., by requiring that benefits payable to the formerly disadvantaged sex be raised to the level now payable to the favored sex, or by the adoption of unisex actuarial tables which average the mortality experience of the sexes and provide mid-level benefits to all employees. In Part IV, this article contemplates the cost and Economic Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) consequences which could accrue from possible solutions to the problem of remedying past sex discrimination in pension programs. Finally, Part V of this article deals with other practical ramifications likely to result from the Manhart and Norris decisions.
Ryan, T. Timothy Jr. and Rock, Paula A.
"Post-Norris Ambiguities: Unanswered Questions For Women and the Pension Industry,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 17
, Article 1.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol17/iss2/1