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Stop using the U.S. women’s soccer team as inspiration*. Just pay them more money.

Monday, July 8th, 2019

On Sunday, moments after the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to win its second consecutive World Cup title — its fourth championship overall — Fox cut to commercial, and a Nike advertisement aired.

The ad, shot in stylish black-and-white, was a take on U.S. Soccer’s “I believe that we will win” chant, which is commonly used by supporters of both the men’s and women’s national teams. Among other things, the commercial stated its belief that “a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play and say things like, ‘I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up,’ and that they’ll be inspired to talk and win and stand up for themselves.”

It was moving, invigorating, and down-right inspirational.

It was also extremely frustrating.

Nike is a brand with a value upwards of $15 billion. And in 2019, it’s time for global brands like Nike to stop just using their power to promote these women as inspirations, and start using their power to get these women paid what they deserve.

Sure: Nike has done a lot for women’s soccer, and implying otherwise would be foolish. It sponsors several USWNT players, including Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath, and Megan Rapinoe. They are not only U.S. Soccer’s biggest partner, but they also have an ongoing deal with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the league’s primary uniform, apparel, and equipment provider, as reported by The Equalizer.

And this gives Nike far more leverage in this fight, not less.

Sponsors have so much power in the sporting world: Leagues and television networks and players all need the sponsors in order to survive. So, what would happen if an organization as powerful as Nike insisted on pay equality? It’s hard to imagine the needle not moving in the right direction.

And as far as women’s soccer has come over the past couple of decades, that needle still has a long way to go. This year, USWNT players will get about $250,000 each for winning the World Cup and participating in the scheduled four-game Victory Tour in the United States. The U.S. men’s team would earn well over $1 million each for the same feat. A recent Guardian report showed there is a $730,000 per-player difference in the World Cup bonus structure between U.S. men’s and women’s teams.

Naturally, FIFA is the worst culprit of them all. The U.S. women won $4 million for winning the World Cup. Last year, the French men won $38 million when they took home the title. Overall, FIFA gives out $410 million more in prize money to men than women in the World Cup. While they have announced plans to increase the amount of prize money for future women’s World Cups, the gap will remain staggering for the foreseeable future.

That inequity makes FIFA’s patronizing “Dare to Shine” slogan down-right insufferable. These women are shining. They always have been shining. And now, they’ve used their light to expose the many ways the powers-that-be have been trying to hold them back.

Recently, some brands — clearly recognizing that it would get them public relations points — have taken the concept of inequality into their own hands. Earlier this year, after the USWNT announced it was suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, Adidas announced that it was paying its women soccer players the same performance bonuses as it would pay its men’s soccer players at the World Cup. Luna Bar also stepped up and announced it was going to pay each of the 23 women named to the 2019 USNWT World Cup team $31,250, which is the exact difference between the women’s and men’s World Cup roster bonus given by U.S. Soccer. On Sunday, Budweiser became the first official beer sponsor of the NWSL. And in Visa’s new deal with U.S. Soccer, it is mandating that more than 50 percent of its money go towards the women’s team.

Is all of this coming from a place of pure charity? Of course not. Investing in women is good business. Nike certainly knows this — last month, the USWNT World Cup jersey became the highest-selling jersey in the history of Nike.com, even beating out all of the men’s jerseys.

So, yes, it’s wonderful that Nike is releasing chill-inducing commercials celebrating these phenomenal athletes, and that it believes that “we will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever.” But Nike and other mega sponsors don’t just have the power to promote these ideals; they have the power to implement them. Perhaps they should just do it.

This article was originally published in ThinkProgress on July 8, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Lindsay Gibbs covers sports. SportsReporter CoHost  Tennis  Mystics   

Despite Breaking The Glass Ceiling, Women At The Top Earn Less

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

There are few frontiers anymore. Women are CEOs, brain surgeons, law partners and astronauts. Little girls have role models in nearly any occupation they want to pursue.

Yet the gender pay gap persists, even for women in high-paying professions. In fact, the pay gap is wider at the top than it is for “working class” women. And the gulf is growing. Did someone cancel the Equal Pay Act?

The gender gap is a canyon in top-earning professions

It’s not that some HR person decides to pay X amount to Joe and a lesser salary to Jane. The wage gap accrues over time in different and sometimes subtle ways. Gender bias in job postings, salary negotiations and performance reviews. The “father bonus” and “mommy penalty” for working parents.  A lack of mentoring opportunities for women. And the Catch-22 of salary history.

Both anecdotally and statistically, the gender gap persists in nearly every field. But it is especially pronounced at the highest levels. Male corporate executives reap millions more in pay and perks. Male doctors earn substantially more than female counterparts in the same specialty. Likewise scientists, lawyers, engineers, computer programmers and financial advisers.

This is counter to the overall trend. In wage earner jobs, the pay gap still exists but it has steadily shrunk. Women of color have made the biggest gains. But at the top, the playing field remains uneven and apparently getting worse.

Is there really a pay gap?

Back in the 1960s, before the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in American earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. The pay gap has shrunk considerably; women now earn 77 cents against the male dollar. In fact, detractors claim there is no wage gap at all. They contend women earn less because they choose lower-paying jobs, have less education or experience, work fewer hours, or voluntarily drop out of the workforce.

Some of those arguments are valid, but numerous studies show that a gender gap remains after accounting for all those factors. In other words, there is still a disparity that cannot be explained by non-discriminatory factors.

What about women in the federal workforce?

According to the General Accounting Office, the federal employee gender pay gap has also shrunk over the decades. Much of that decline is a shift from low-paying clerical work that was dominated by women to more sophisticated jobs requiring higher education and experience. But after controlling for other factors, the GAO says there is still an unexplained gender gap of about 7 percent. There is less gender disparity in lower end General Schedule jobs where starting pay scales are more rigid.

But, as with the private sector, there is still a notable gap at the top levels of federal employment. For example, women in GS 14, GS 15 and SES positions may earn less than male counterparts or predecessors even though they hold Ph.D.’s and the requisite experience. Those old biases that favor men pervade even the federal government.

What if you think you are being paid less in your government job?

Making a case for a raise or promotion is one thing. Proving gender discrimination is another. Have there been other indications of unequal treatment, such as derogatory comments, different assignments, or being pulled from certain accounts or assignments? Are male counterparts with lesser credentials advanced or paid more? Are there trends in how men and women in the department are treated? Does your manager consider salary history (a system which perpetuates the gender gap) in determining what you should be paid in your current job?

The employment law attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., focus almost exclusively on the rights of federal sector employees. We represented government workers up and down the strata and in every federal agency.

This blog was originally published by Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law on May 27, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Founded in 1990 by Edward H. Passman and Joseph V. Kaplan, Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, is focused on protecting the rights of federal employees and promoting workplace fairness.  The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan (Edward H. Passman, Joseph V. Kaplan, Adria S. Zeldin, Andrew J. Perlmutter, Johnathan P. Lloyd and Erik D. Snyder) represent federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies, and also represent employees in U.S. District and Appeals Courts.

Kamala Harris announces equal pay plan: Fine companies that pay women less

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Women are still paid only 80 cents for every dollar men are paid, with black and Latina women paid substantially less—and Sen. Kamala Harris has unveiled a plan to change that. Harris is pledging that, if elected president, she would fine companies that pay women less than men for comparable work.

Companies would have to get an “Equal Pay Certification” from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and if unequal pay kept them from getting certification, the EEOC would fine them 1% of profits per 1% of wage gap. “It should not be on that working woman to prove it. It should instead be on that large corporation to prove that they are paying people for equal work, equally,” Harris told CNN.

The unequal pay fines collected under Harris’ plan would go toward universal paid family and medical leave. Like her plan to strengthen gun laws, Harris would address equal pay through executive action—an acknowledgement that the Senate may continue to be a blockade for progressive policies.

Other 2020 presidential candidates who are in Congress have co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, but Harris has now jumped out in front of the field on this issue.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on May 20, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

Trump’s Federal Reserve pick says there’s no need for any equal pay laws

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Since President Donald Trump announced last month that he would nominate conservative activist Stephen Moore for a seat of the Federal Reserve Board, Moore’s past record of tax liens, sexist columns, and contempt of court have been front and center. On Sunday, Moore stood by one of his most controversial views: his belief that there should be no laws to protect equal pay for women.

Moore has previously argued that girls should not be permitted to play sports with boys, that women should not be permitted to serve as referees, announcers, or even beer vendors at sporting events, and that pay equity for women athletes is nothing more than wanting “equal pay for inferior work.” In a 2014 National Review column, he wrote that, “The crisis in America today isn’t about women’s wages; it’s about men’s wages,” because if women earn more than men it might disrupt “family stability” and lead to more divorce. He has since characterized some of his writings as satire.

But asked about his criticism of equal pay on ABC News on Sunday, he stood by his view that government should do nothing to ensure that women are paid fairly. “This is is a sizzling economy,” he claimed. “The way to close the wage gap is by creating a healthy economy.”

“When it comes to wages and gender equity,” he reaffirmed, “I want that to be decided by the market. I don’t want government to intervene in those kinds of things.”

Shortly after taking office, Trump’s administration froze a key equal pay rule that had been established by the Obama administration. (On Thursday, a federal judge finally struck down this effort and ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has until September to collect salary data by race, gender, and job title.)

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According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the wage gap actually increasedslightly over the first year of Trump’s administration, going from an average disadvantage of $10,086 in 2016 to $10,169. Women earned just 80.5 percent in 2017, on average, of what men were paid. The coalition has not yet published data for 2018.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill last month to reduce the gender wage gap, with 187 Republicans voting no and just 7 voting yes. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dismissed it as “just another Democratic idea that threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help.”

In 2010, Moore proposed increasing the tax rate on poor Americans from 10 to 15 percent to help pay for a tax cut for the rich  In recent years, Moore repeatedly admitted that he was “not an expert on monetary policy.”  The Federal Reserve Board’s chief role is to set the nation’s monetary policy.

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on April 28, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Josh Israel has been senior investigative reporter for ThinkProgress since 2012.

It's Equal Pay Day, and men's responses to a new poll show why the problem isn't going away

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Women make an average of 80 to 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, which makes April 2 Equal Pay Day—the day women have made as much since January 1, 2018, as men made in 2018 alone. But that’s not the only number showing how far the U.S. has to go on pay equality.

First, that 80 cents an hour is an average. White women, black women, Native American women, and Latinas all make less, with just Asian women outstripping the average, at 85 cents. (That’s in comparison to white, non-Hispanic men.) That means women make an average of $406,760 less over a 40-year career than men do, but for Latinas, that lifetime cap is more than $1.1 million, and for both black and Native American women it’s nearly $1 million.

Pay isn’t the only inequality, though. One way women respond to discrimination is to go into business for themselves—but women get smaller loans than men, by about 31 percent. The list goes on: “women continue to face workplace hardships such as fewer promotionsless support and implicit bias. They experience pregnancy discrimination, exclusion from the so-called ‘boy’s club’ and sexual harassment.”

And the insult on top of the injury? According to a new poll, 46 percent of men agree that the pay gap “is made up to serve a political purpose.” Just 48 percent of men agree that it’s very unfair for women to make less than men for similar work, while 58 percent say that obstacles to women getting ahead are “largely gone.” Men haven’t met themselves, apparently.

This article was originally published at DailyKos on April 2, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

187 Republicans vote against bill to close the gender wage gap

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

The House on Wednesday voted 242-187 for a bill that would strengthen protections for female workers and help close the gender wage gap. The vote comes as Republicans are trumpeting themselves as the champions of women’s economic mobility — though only seven of them voted for the bill.

Iterations of this legislation have been debated by lawmakers for decades but have never actually been able to pass. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), seeks to boost women’s pay by prohibiting employers from seeking job applicants’ salary histories and preventing them from retaliating against workers for disclosing their wages. It also would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect wage data based on sex, race, and national origin to better determine whether employers are responsible for discriminatory practices. The House passed the bill on Wednesday despite Republicans’ opposition, but it now faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted to advance the legislation earlier this week. Every single Republican opposed moving the bill out of committee, with many saying the focus should instead be on providing more job opportunities for women.

Republicans often like to point to data showing that women gained 58 percent of new, private-sector jobs in 2018. Trump touted the figure in his State of the Union address in February, and Republicans in the Education and Labor Committee again brought it up when discussing the Paycheck and Fairness Act.

But many of the jobs gained by women are part time, and nearly 80 percent of them fell into just four categories: education and health services, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. In three of those industries, women make less than 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, or worse than the average national wage gap, according to a 2018 analysis by the Center for American Progress analysis. (Editor’s Note: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent newsroom housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)

Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who focuses on work-family balance, pay equity, and women’s leadership, said, “It’s not to discount that women have received jobs and obviously want jobs but there is a disconnect. It’s not responsive to the question [of pay inequality]. The fact that you gave the jobs doesn’t change the fact that the jobs are underpaying women.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have been looking for ways to appeal to greater numbers of women voters, particularly since their support among women plummeted in the 2018 midterm elections.

In November, 59 percent of women voted for Democrats in the congressional elections, according to exit poll data. Only 40 percent of women voted for Republicans. There was no measurement for how nonbinary people voted across race or educational attainment. Black and Latina women overwhelmingly voted for Democratic candidates.

Although there was a roughly even split for how white women voted, 59 percent of college-educated white women and 56 percent of white voters ages 18 to 29 voted for Democrats. Experts say these shifts likely represent a long-term trend.

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Kelly Dittmar of the Center for American Women and Politics, part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, said the shift likely isn’t about Trump alone, but about the broader Republican Party.

“My hypothesis at this moment is that it is actually a trend because there were signs of this trend before Donald Trump, it’s just that you saw it through an acceleration I think — the departure of these women,” Dittmar said. “I think you’ll continue to see it because these women who are particularly upset with how the party has dealt with Donald Trump, it certainly leaves a taste in their mouth about the party overall.”

She added, “If you put these women on a scale when it comes to immigration or guns or the environment, their positions on these issues are just not aligned with the current agenda and leadership in the Republican Party.”

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said that when looking at women who vote in the general election, college-educated and suburban women are identifying as more independent and Democratic. She said three major waves encapsulate that movement.

The Republican Party’s position on social issues — including birth control, Title IX, and sexual harassment and violence — led to some women moving away from the Republican Party in 2016. The second wave emerged as voters reacted to Trump’s racist and sexist behavior, as well as how he governs.

“The third wave, which is more recent, is a sense that the country is going in the wrong direction, that the priorities are wrong, that we are not dealing with everything from health care to climate change,” Lake said.

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Lake said that for female voters, including Republican women, equal pay is high on the list of concerns, along with domestic violence programs. The reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act is on the House agenda this session. But Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) is the only Republican in the House who is cosponsoring the bill and the only Republican who has shown support for the bill by attending its introduction.

“There’s a very high correlation between concerns about sexual harassment and concerns about domestic violence and concerns about equal pay.” Lake said. “And equal pay is still the most salient of the three with women overall. And it’s particularly salient with Republican women who are very adamant about equal pay and that it remains a problem.”

Dittmar said that across gender, voters are concerned about economic stability and the well-being of their families. But they are divided over who is responsible. She explained that college-educated women who identify as Democrats tend to say the government plays a role but Republicans tend to say it’s up to businesses to address equal pay.

Broadly I think there is pretty high popularity for wanting to address equal pay but it’s in the how where you see the disparity both among legislators as well as the public,” she said.

Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said these measures are necessary to ensure workplace fairness.

“What the Equal Pay Act recognizes and what the Paycheck Fairness Act is trying to update 50 years on to more current circumstances is that there is discrimination in the labor market and if you just rely on what people are paid now, you are going to pick up discrimination and import it into your organization,” she said. “You have to pay people the same if they do the same job and have similar education, experience and performance. You can qualify their personal performance but it has to be fact based.”

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it will take until 2059 for women to reach pay parity if change continues at the current pace. Black women would have to wait until 2119 for equal pay, and Latina women until 2224.

“After what I would call a wave election in 2018 where women were elected to historic numbers in Congress, people have very high expectations of what they are going to get from lawmakers and it is not acceptable simply to say I support equal pay but I have nothing to show for it,” said Frye.

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on March 27, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Casey Quinlan is a policy reporter at ThinkProgress covering gender and sexuality. Their work has also been published in The Establishment, Bustle, Glamour, The Guardian, and In These Times.

Equal Pay for All

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, the day in the year when Latina pay catches up to that of white, non-Hispanic men. That means Latinas work nearly 23 months to make what white, non-Hispanic men earn in one year.

More than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women still get paid less for the same work. But women of color—Latinas especially—experience the widest wage gap for the same jobs.

While it’s shameful that women are still fighting for equal pay, there are steps we can take to close the gap. The best way is to join a union. Through union contracts, women have closed the wage gap and received higher pay and better benefits. In fact, union women earn $231 more a week than women who don’t have a union voice.

When women are represented by unions and negotiate together, they have the power to create a better life.

Check out some facts below about Latina Equal Pay Day, and learn more from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler here.

  • Latinas get paid only 53 cents to every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes—the largest gap in the nation.
  • Latinas must work 23 months to earn what a white man does in 12 months.
  • The average weekly earnings for Latinas is $621, compared to the $815 that white, non-Hispanic women bring home every week.
  • Latinas in unions earn 48% more.

This blog was originally published by the AFL-CIO on November 1, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

11 Things You Need to Know on Equal Pay Day

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Equal Pay Day calls attention to the persistent moral and economic injustice working women face. For a woman to earn as much as a man, she has to work a full year, plus more than a hundred extra days, all the way to April 10. The problem is even worse for women of color, LGBTQ women and part-time workers.

Here are 11 things you need to know on Equal Pay Day:

1. Equal Pay Day for women of color is even later: For black women, Equal Pay Day comes later because they are paid, on average, even less than white women. Equal Pay Day for black women is Aug. 7. For Native American women, it’s Sept. 7. For Latinas, it’s Nov. 1.

2. LGBTQ women face a host of related problems: A woman in a same-sex couple makes 79% of what a straight, white man makes. Additionally, they face higher rates of unemployment, discrimination and harassment on the job.

3. It will take decades to fix the problem if we don’t act now: If nothing changes, it will take until 2059 for women to reach pay equality. For black women, parity won’t come until 2124 and for Latinas, 2233.

4. Fixing the wage gap will reduce poverty: The poverty rate for women would be cut in half if the wage gap were eliminated. Additionally, 25.8 million children would benefit from closing the gap.

5. Fixing the wage gap would boost the economy: Eliminating the wage gap would increase women’s earnings by $512.6 billion, a 2.8% boost to the country’s gross domestic product. Women are consumers and the bulk of this new income would be injected directly into the economy.

6. Women aren’t paid less because they choose to work in low-paying jobs: The gender pay gap persists in nearly every occupation, regardless of race, ethnicity, education, age and location.

7. Education alone isn’t the solution: Women are paid less at every level of education. Women with advanced degrees get paid less than men with bachelor’s degrees.

8. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help: This bipartisan legislation would close loopholes in existing law, break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and strengthen protections for women workers.

9. Being in union makes a difference: Women who are represented by unions and negotiate together are closer to pay equality, making 94 cents per dollar that white men make.

10. Business leaders have a role in the solution: Individual business owners and leaders have the power to close the pay gap and improve people’s lives. Catalyst offers five tips on what business leaders can do.

11. Many companies already are working on solutions: Learn from them.

Nine Years Later: Why We're Still Fighting Pay Discrimination

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Nine years ago today, then-President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, restoring working women’s right to sue over pay discrimination. It was the first piece of legislation enacted during his presidency, and he noted the significance of the moment: “It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign…we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.”

Lilly Ledbetter, the law’s namesake, had blazed a trail forward in the spirit of that fundamental idea. After two decades of hard work at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.’s Gadsden, Alabama, plant, she learned that she was making thousands less than her male counterparts. Over the course of her career, she had lost out on more than $200,000 in wages—plus even more in retirement benefits. She challenged Goodyear’s discriminatory actions, eventually taking her case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the halls of Congress.

Her journey led to a major step forward in the fight for justice in the workplace. But that fight is far from over. Women continue to face discriminatory pay practices—and the problem is even worse for women of color:

  • Women overall make 80 cents on the dollar that men make.
  • African American women make 63 cents.
  • Native American women make 59 cents.
  • Latinas make 54 cents.

This outrageous pay disparity doesn’t just hurt women. Some 40% of working women in the United States are the sole breadwinner for their families. When they face discrimination on the job, their loved ones suffer as well.

The AFL-CIO is fighting to end this injustice. The first step is collecting and releasing data on gender pay discrimination. When employers can’t hide their despicable actions, we can effectively fight to end them. Take action today and urge the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect equal pay data.

This blog was originally published at AFL-CIO on January 29, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

9th Circuit Revists Ruling on Unequal Pay in Some Situations

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

In a conundrum with profound implications, a federal appeals court will revisit whether – in some circumstances — men can be paid more than women for the same job.

On the surface, that conflicts with the Equal Pay Act. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled in April that salary history could justify unequal pay. In essence, the panel determined the male hires in question were paid more because of their last paycheck and that their gender was a coincidence.

The EEOC appealed, saying that the ruling perpetuates the gender gap and conflicts with precedent in other circuits. The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to review the case, with oral arguments set for December.

She was hired at less pay than all the men in her job

Aileen Rizo, a math consultant, took a job with the public schools in Fresno County, California. Her $62,000 salary was a nice bump from her previous teaching job. But she soon learned that a male colleague was hired at $79,000 for the same job. Further investigation revealed that all her male colleagues earned more.

When human resources did not act on her complaint, Rizo sued for employment discrimination. The school district’s rationale was that the men’s higher pay was based on their salary history. Per county policy, starting pay was determined by adding 5 percent to the hiree’s preceding salary.

The Equal Pay Act allows unequal pay for men and women doing the same work if the disparity is based on factors other than gender, such as seniority. In ruling against Rizo, the appeals court panel cited a prior 9th Circuit decision that salary history can be a factor if the practice (a) effectuates some business policy and (b) is implemented in a reasonable way.

Salary history exception may perpetuate the wage gap

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strongly disagrees and appealed the panel’s ruling. Before the 9th Circuit took up the review, the panel had remanded the case to the trial court to explore the “business reason” for the Fresno County salary policies.

The EEOC contends that the ruling enables the pay gap’s vicious cycle. If men are routinely paid more than women, their salary history will dictate they be paid more at the next job, and so on. The American Association of University Women, which studies the gender pay gap, says the wage gap is partially rooted in outdated concepts of men as family providers. For example, AAUW statistics reveal that women who are moms earn less than their female peers (the “Motherhood Penalty”), but men who are dads are paid more than average (the “Fatherhood Bonus”). This bias can be perpetuated in salary history and parental leave policies.

The AAUW says that women earn, on average, 80 percent of their male counterparts. The wage gap varies, but it is true across all industries and all levels of employment, including public sector employees. There is already a pay gap when females enter the workforce in their teens. While women tend to top out in salary in their 40s, male salaries continue to rise into their 50s and 60s.

On the other hand, many economists say it’s a myth that women are paid 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Rather than a wage gap, they say, it’s an earnings gap. Men gravitate toward – or have more access to – higher-paying jobs. Some moms drop out of the workforce or scale back. Et cetera. Without settling the broader pay gap dispute, the 9th Circuit case is in fact about unequal pay for equal work.

This blog was originally published by Passman and Kaplan, P.C. on September 12, 2017. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Authors: Founded in 1990 by Edward H. Passman and Joseph V. Kaplan, Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, is focused on protecting the rights of federal employees and promoting workplace fairness.  The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan (Edward H. Passman, Joseph V. Kaplan, Adria S. Zeldin, Andrew J. Perlmutter, Johnathan P. Lloyd and Erik D. Snyder) represent federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies, and also represent employees in U.S. District and Appeals Courts.

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