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Equal Pay Progress

Katherine Neff

On Equal Pay Day let’s celebrate the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ April 9, 2018 decision reaffirming the principle behind the Equal Pay Act and rejecting a common defense made by employers that they relied on prior salaries to justify paying men and women differently. According to the 9th Circuit, “The Equal Pay Act stands for a principle as simple as it is just: men and women should receive equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. The question before us is also simple: can an employer justify a wage differential between male and female employees by relying on prior salary? Based on the text, history, and purpose of the Equal Pay Act, the answer is clear: No.”
According to the court, which has jurisdiction over cases from California, Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington, a woman’s prior salary cannot be used to justify paying a female employee less than her male counterpart, whether it is used as the sole justification, or in combination with other factors. If employers were permitted to do so, then inequality in pay among genders would be perpetuated.
The court relied on studies showing that American women lose $840 billion annually as a result of the wage gap, which on average means women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn.
Today is Equal Pay Day. Let’s raise awareness and advocate for closing the wage gap. Follow the hashtag #EqualPayDay on Twitter to learn more.

Women Can’t Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says in Equal Pay Case.

Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15372 (9th Circuit April 9, 2018) Opinion:

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