Here’s news every woman in the workforce needs to know: Your salary history can’t be used a justification for paying you less than your male colleagues.
That’s the upshot of a new U.S. federal appeals court ruling.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “prior salary alone or in combination with other factors cannot justify a wage differential.” That’s an about-face on a previous ruling in this same case.
The reasoning? That paying a woman less for the same work because she’s made less in the past will perpetuate the wage gap forever.
Check out the specific of the case and how you can use it to your own advantage.
The woman in this case sued her employer, claiming it violated the Equal Pay Act by paying her less than her male colleagues for the same work.
And the company didn’t deny that. But it asserted it had a factor “other than sex” to justify it, which is allowed by law. Specifically, it said the decision was based on the female employee’s past pay.
But the 3-person judicial panel wasn’t having it.
Yes, it acknowledged that federal law allows for discrepancies between what men and women make based on legitimate business reasons. But salary history can’t be a reason for it. That’s because, according to the court: Prior salary is not “a legitimate measure of work experience, ability, performance, or any other job-related quality.”
May be applied to other circumstances
Clearly this is important insight for all of you who are looking for a job. What you made at a previous job can’t be used as a reason to justify paying you less than what the men make in that position.
But there are even broader implications for women everywhere in this case.
While this specific ruling applied to an initial salary set with an employer, the language in the ruling is such that experts believe the same logic can also apply to promotions and job transfers.
Cite: Rizo v. Yovino.