A federal court ruled last week that employers can legally pay women less than men in comparable positions, based on their previous salaries.
As CBS News reports, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling, which argued that basing pay exclusively on prior wages was a violation of the Equal Pay Act. Women’s previous salaries are likely to be lower, that court maintained, due to gender biases.
But the 9th Circuit Court disagreed. A three-judge panel referred to a 1982 ruling, which stipulated that employers could refer to previous salaries if their business policies justify it, and if they do so reasonably.
The new ruling resulted from a 2012 case brought by Aileen Rizo, a math consultant at Fresno County public schools in California. While lunching with her colleagues, Rizo learned that male employees were earning more money than her — even though she had received a five percent bump from her previous salary, to meet the minimum salary requirements of her position.
Pushing back against Rizo’s legal complaint, Fresno County argued that basing starting salaries on previous compensations allows the county to be objective about employees’ value.
Rizo’s lawyer, Dan Siegel, told CBS that he could envision the case going to the Supreme Court.
Read more at CBS News.