Fighting for Women's Equality

Taking the Fight for Equal Pay to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

December 12, 2017 | by

Today, we have a historic opportunity to see justice served for millions of women.

Women like Aileen Rizo. In 2012, Aileen, a mother of three, discovered she was earning over $10,000 less each year than her male co-workers doing the same job. Why? Just because she made less at her previous job.

Her story is not unique. When employers base starting pay on prior salary, women lose because of the gender wage gap that exists across all job categories and in nearly every industry. We can’t afford to continue perpetuating this insurmountable gap.

But Aileen is fighting back – and we’re standing by her side today at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, Aileen’s case was reheard by a full panel, en banc court of the 9th Circuit. Jessica Stender, ERA Senior Counsel, Workplace Justice & Public Policy, was at the court this morning delivering arguments on behalf of ERA and 15 national organizations who support Aileen’s case.

Jessica told them that an employer cannot justify paying a woman less for equal work solely because she made less in her previous job. Prior salary does not exist in a vacuum. Because of the persistent, pervasive gender wage gap, using prior salary alone to set pay can never be separated from factors related to an employee’s sex. This is a clear violation of the federal Equal Pay Act.

States and employers are beginning to realize the harm caused by setting pay on prior salary too. This year, ERA sponsored a California bill signed into law by Governor Brown that will ban employers from inquiring about applicants’ prior salary. Over the summer, San Francisco passed a similar ordinance. In the year ahead, you can be sure that similar bills will be introduced – and pass – in states across the country.

ERA will continue fighting for these bills and will stand by Aileen’s side until her fight for equal pay is won.

Learn more about Aileen’s case here and sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on this case and others.

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