The Ninth Circuit recently held in favor of an employee in a sex pay claim against a California school district. The parties attempted to settle the case out of court following the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, but it appears that settlement negotiations have fallen apart and the case will be taken up by the Supreme Court.
The Ninth Circuit, when ruling in favor of the employee, stated:
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.
The opinion was authored by the late Justice Stephen Reinhardt.
The lawsuit shines a spotlight on a topic that has long been an issue in the United States, as women on average still only make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men in similar positions.
Although there is no guarantee that the lawsuit will be heard by the Supreme Court, there is a split among the appellate circuits on this issue. The Tenth and Eleventh Circuits have both held that prior pay history cannot be considered an exemption to equal pay laws, whereas the Seventh Circuit has held that it can.
Law firms representing management and employers have called this a “wake up call” for companies.
If you believe you have been the victim of unequal pay, please consider contacting the lawyers at the Bullman Law Firm. We represent workers, not employers. Our number is (503) 987-5000. There is no charge for your call.