Established 1958 ~ Hardball Business Litigation & Complex Negotiations

Employers Cannot Use Salary History to Justify Lower Pay for Women

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case from Fresno County, California regarding lower pay for women during an en banc session. The Court concluded in February 2020 that lower pay for women cannot be justified based on their previous pay.

How May Employers Determine Employee Pay?

Under the Equal Pay Act, employers are only allowed to determine employee pay based on four factors:

  • An established seniority system
  • An established merit system
  • A system that measures salary based on quantity or quality
  • Any factor other than sex

Fresno County Schools had a seniority system and a merit system. However, the Court determined the county applied that system improperly under the Equal Pay Act.

What was the Decision?

The Ninth Circuit Court determined that previous pay from a different job cannot fall under the last catch-all “factor other than sex” because the factor’s must be job-related. The case involved a math consultant with the school system who inadvertently discovered she was making less than her male colleagues. The school system used her previous salary, added five percent, and placed her on the corresponding section of the pay scale. She received an extra $600 for her master’s degree, but her salary was calculated based on an entirely different job.

How Does the Ruling Apply to Your Business?

The Ninth Circuit Court noted that other federal courts have come to inconsistent rulings. Regardless, this case has value wherever your employer is located. As a result, employers must be careful that if there is any pay discrepancy between employees, it’s based on job-related reasons.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Employers and Employees Concerned About Equal Pay

Our Philadelphia business and employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. will work with you on any equal pay case. Contact us online or call us at 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.