A federal appeals court has cleared the way for a lower court to rule on a lawsuit by Wal-Mart workers who claim the world’s largest retailer unfairly threatened to withhold benefits from employees who unionize.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis reversed a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson of Fort Smith, Ark., who had ruled that he did not have jurisdiction over the dispute because it fell under the sole authority of the National Labor Relations Board.