A California federal court has ruled that employers are legally allowed to pay women less for the same work, based on the difference in their previous salaries. The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling by a lower court, which stated that differences in pay based on prior salaries was discriminatory. The basis for the lower court’s ruling was that the prior differences in pay would also have been due to gender bias, according to a decision in 2015. The 9th Circuit based their decision to overturn the ruling based on a previous case, in which it was determined that the justification for the lower wage was reasonable.
A professor of gender equity at Stanford Law School argues that the decision was a misstep in the quest for equal treatment of women in the workplace. She went on to say that allowing a prior salary based on discrimination to justify future discrimination was also an unacceptable standard. A rally held by activists nationwide on Equal Pay Day was intended to call attention to the pay disparity between men and women, with women making about eighty cents on average for every dollar made by men.
The Source of the Ruling
The lawsuit from 2012 that spurred the decision was based on a female teacher learning that male employees of the same level of experience were making noticeably more than she was. The public school district that hired the teacher as a math consultant paid her $63,000 annually. The amount was based on her previous salary as a middle school teacher, with the county school district’s standard five percent increase, and bumped up further due to the fact that the new salary did not meet their minimum level for her position. Because this amount was based on a previous salary she felt she had received due to gender discrimination, she argued that the new amount did not reflect a fair wage.
With women’s salaries already generally lower than men’s, this ruling is considered by detractors to allow the perpetuation of the gender wage gap, and essentially encourages the continuing disenfranchisement of women around the country. The Equal Pay Act, which was created in 1963 and signed by President Kennedy, was designed to prevent employers from paying women less for equally skilled work. There were exemptions in the law for adjusting pay based on quality or quantity of work, seniority, and other factors independent of sex. The new ruling will likely see these protections for women in the workplace from over 50 years ago undone to some extent, representing a significant step backward for social justice in the United States.
Philadelphia Wage Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Take on Gender-Based Wage Disputes
If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of workplace gender discrimination or wage discrimination, it is important to seek qualified legal representation. The Philadelphia employment lawyers at the offices of Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. are dedicated to providing clients with fair, high-quality courtroom representation. Our local Philadelphia wage discrimination lawyers are here to ensure you are treated fairly in the workplace. Contact us online, or call 215-569-1999 to schedule a free case consultation in our Philadelphia office.