A US federal appeals court has rules that employers are legally allowed to pay women lower salaries than men for the same work.
The decision by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous lower-court ruling, according to Associate Press (AP). The previous ruling had pay difference cased only on prior salaries were discriminatory under the country’s Equal Pay Act.
Women’s earlier salaries are likely to be lower than men’s because of gender bias, US Magistrate Judge Michael Seng said in a 2015 decision, according to AP.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit cited a 1982 ruling by the court that said employers could use previous salary information as long as they applied it reasonably and had a business policy that justified it.
“This decision is a step in the wrong direction if we’re trying to really ensure that women have work opportunities of equal pay,” said Deborah Rhode. Rhode teaches gender equity law at Stanford Law School, according to the agency.
“You can’t allow prior discriminatory salary setting to justify future ones or you perpetuate the discrimination”.
According to US government data, women made about 80 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2015.
In the UK gender pay gap is currently at its lowest level ever – just over 18 per cent – according to the most recently available Government data.
However, women are still missing out on top pay in the UK. The proportion of female high earners has not altered in six years, a study by law firm Clyde And Co shows.
Unequal pay for men and women doing the same job has been illegal in the UK for 45 years and the Government has vowed to crack down on the divide.
As of 6 April, this year, companies employing more than 250 people will have 12 months to meet a deadline to publish their gender pay gap figures.
Critics, however, have said that the reporting won’t be enough to facilitate real change.
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