On April 9th, the court declared that employers can’t pay women less than men for doing the same job. “A panel of 11 judges with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited the federal Equal Pay Act in ruling unanimously that an employee’s salary from a previous job did not justify paying them less than another employee for the same work,” the Huffington Post reported.
“The Equal Pay Act stands for a principle as simple as it is just: men and women should receive equal pay for equal work regardless of sex,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt (who died in March, but wrote the opinion prior) wrote in the majority opinion.
This latest court decision overturned a previous ruling by a smaller panel of 9th Circuit judges last year, “which stated that employers could in fact pay women less than men for doing the same job, based on what their previous salaries were,” the Huffington Post reported.
This is a major decision in the fight for equal pay. “Women in the U.S. were paid around 80 cents for every dollar their male peers received in 2016, according to the National Women’s Law Center. For women of color, the gap is even wider, with Black women making 63 cents, Latina women 54 cents, and Native women 57 cents for every dollar paid to white men,” HuffPost added. …
Can you legally find out what co-workers on your same level make?
“Under the National Labor Relations Act, which applies to most private-sector, non-managerial and non-supervisory employees in the U.S., employees have the right to collectively discuss the terms and conditions of their employment. So, if your coworkers are willing to share this information, you can discuss it with them. However, you can’t require your coworkers or your employer to share this information with you,” explained attorney Susan Gross Sholinsky in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice at the law firm of Epstein Becker Green.
She added, “Some states provide for “pay transparency.” For example, in New York, employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee who inquires about, discusses, or discloses his or her wages or the wages of another employee provided the other employee consents.”
What should you do if you find out you are earning less than others in your same position with the same qualifications?
“Many states have passed equal pay laws (or amended existing equal pay laws). These laws provide similar protections as the federal law. Some of the equal pay laws (including the federal) address only differences in pay based on sex. But there are others that address pay differentials based on other factors,” explained Sholinsky.