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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Fresno school employee prompts employment discrimination case

A federal court has ruled that employers can pay women less than men for the same work based on their previous salaries. The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling by a lower court. The ruling still has its opponents who claim that this practice violates the Equal Pay Act and is employment discrimination based on sex.

In 2012, a Fresno County Public School employee discovered during talks with her co-workers that she was being paid less than her male counterparts. The school system hired the woman as a consultant for $63,000 per year. The standard for Fresno County Public schools is to add 5 percent to the new employee's old salary as an incentive to join the county school system. The employee's salary was bumped by more than 5 percent, since 5 percent did not raise her to the minimum salary requirement for her position. Even so, she was not being paid as much as her male counterparts. 

A California assemblywoman claims that allowing employers to pay women less simply because they have previously paid women less perpetuates the cycle of employment discrimination that the Equal Pay Act was designed to rectify. She has introduced a bill this month to prevent employers from seeking salary history of applicants. Other gender equity activists agree with her.

Given the political action surrounding salary discrimination, Fresno residents can expect to hear more about this issue in the coming months. At the current time, the appeals court finds these salary practices legal. Unfortunately, women still face discrimination in the workplace, but if the salary bill passes, employers will no longer be allowed to ask about previous salary and continue the cycle of low pay for women. Women in California who feel that they have been unfairly discriminated against because of their sex may wish to seek the aid of an attorney who can decipher the intricacies of current laws and court rulings on employment discrimination.

Source: recordnet.com, "Court: Employers can pay women less", Sudhin Thanawala, April 27, 2017

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