California has been ahead of the curve in addressing income inequality. Activists and legislators have worked hard to ensure that people of all races, backgrounds and genders are paid a fair wage for the same work. One of the most challenging barriers to this work is the persisting gender pay gap.
The gap is “an embarrassing reality of our economy,” according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Their recent ruling makes progress by declaring women cannot make less than men because of a pay gap from earlier employment.
This effort addresses systemic differences in salary, benefits and other compensation available for the same jobs, even as some of these jobs are recently opening to female workers. The court stated that experts estimate American women are paid 80 cents for every dollar made by a man. This adds up to $840 billion less than a fair wage that would eliminate the gender pay gap.
The ruling overturns a 1982 interpretation of the Equal Pay Act that ruled prior compensation was a priority factor in first offers for employers. The court ruled the act was intended to eliminate disparities in pay rather than preserve them.
Compensation factors into families’ standard of living as well as economic mobility. Educational opportunities and other forms of upward progress are more available to people with higher salaries.
This precedent adds to the arsenal of laws that can be invoked by victims of employment discrimination based on gender. These workers and former employees may claim lost wages due to inappropriate personal or corporate behavior. An attorney can help victims of workplace discrimination assemble civil lawsuits and work towards settlements or jury verdicts.
Source: National Public Radio, “Women Can’t Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says In Equal Pay Case,” Bill Chappell, April 10, 2018