In April 2018, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that women cannot be paid less than men based on prior salary. The Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco decided unanimously, and its ruling came the day before national Equal Pay Day, which marks how long it takes the average woman working into the next year to match the money men earned the previous year. The court found that the wage gap based on prior salary contrasted with the intent of the Equal Pay Act, which was passed in 1963.
Case Brought by Math Consultant
The case was brought by a math consultant who was hired by Fresno County Office of Education in 2009. At the time of her hiring, from which she relocated her family from Arizona to California, she had been working in the field for 13 years and had a master’s degree. Her starting salary was set via a formula adding five percent to her prior salary. It was not until 2012 that she learned her male colleagues, in the same job, started out at higher salaries.
It appeared her previous salary was the only differential, as there were male colleagues with less experience who had earned more money in previous positions. After learning this, she sued Fresno County in 2014, arguing her situation violated the Equal Pay Act and constituted sex discrimination. The county’s position followed a formula permitted under the law.
Just one year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided unfavorable to the math consultant. A three-judge panel decided that prior salary history for wage calculation was allowed under the Equal Pay Act, as long as it involved factors other than gender. Various groups, including the American Association of University Women, filed an amicus brief supporting the math consultant’s petition to an en banc hearing, which involved all the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit judges rather than just three.
The petition was granted, and the entire court reheard the case in December 2017, with the decision filed in April 2018. The court’s chief justice wrote an opinion that allowing employers to capitalize on the wage gap persistence was contrary to the text and history of the Equal Pay Act. The chief justice passed away before the opinion was published.
The Domino Effect
Using a previous salary history as a basis for establishing a current salary increases the pay differential between genders, as women are often paid less than men. This creates a domino effect, and a female employee may never catch up to her male cohorts during her career.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for Employees’ Rights in the Workplace
If you or a loved one has been the victim of gender-based pay discrimination, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us today at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free initial consultation or submit an online inquiry form. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.