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9th Circuit: Equal Pay Act allows past pay as excuse for current pay differences

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in Compensation and Benefits,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that employers are free to use past pay as the starting point for a compensation offer as long as they can justify the practice as having a legitimate business purpose.

That’s true even if using past pay ends up perpetuating past pay discrimination. Reason: The court said past pay is a “factor other than sex” that might explain different pay for men and women.

Recent case: Aileen works as a math consultant with the Fresno County public schools. She learned that a recently-hired male math consultant was hired at a higher salary level than she had been and that other male math consultants earned more, too.

When she complained to the county, she was told that all management-level starting salaries were set in accordance with its “Standard Operating Procedures.” In the applicable standard operating procedure, the initial salary level was determined by the employee’s most recent sala...(register to read more)

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