LAF Chair: Marcine Humphrey, 845-485-7697
by Marcine Humphrey
Yovino v. Rizo (Formerly Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education)
On August 30, 2018, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools filed a petition for appeal with the Supreme Court of the United States to challenge the decision reached by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found in favor of Aileen holding that using prior salary alone, as a “factor other than sex,” or in combination with other factors cannot justify a wage differential under the Equal Pay Act. Pay equity is a matter of simple fairness. This case highlights a significant underlying factor that contributes to the pay gap: employers’ practice of relying on an employee’s salary history to set new salary levels.
On February 25, 2019, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which means that they determined that the Ninth Circuit’s decision was flawed and must be sent back to the appellate court for additional review. The Court arrived at this conclusion without reviewing the merits of the equal pay case, focusing solely on the second issue presented before the Court, which was whether a federal court can count the vote of a judge who dies before the decision is issued. AAUW has been fighting for Aileen and others by advocating for pay equity and fairness in compensation and benefits as a means to achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women. We will continue to support her case through our legal case support program.
The Story behind the Rizo Case:
In 2012, Rizo says, a male colleague who had recently been hired mentioned that he had been placed at step nine on the county’s 10-step pay scale. Rizo was shocked — she had been placed at step one on the scale when she began her job, even though she understood that she had more experience and seniority than her male colleague. Rizo says that after filing an internal complaint, she was told that the FCOE based new employees’ salaries on just one factor: the employee’s salary history. On the basis of the county’s policy it seemed that Rizo’s less-experienced colleague was given a higher salary only because he had been paid more at his previous job than she had been paid at her previous job.
This is just one way that women, historically paid 80 cents to the dollar a man earns are victimized by pay inequality.
On April 9, 2018, the Ninth Circuit held that using prior salary alone, as a “factor other than sex,” or in combination with other factors cannot justify a wage differential, further reasoning that this would allow employers to profit on this inequity and perpetuate a gender wage gap in direct contrast with the intent of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
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Contact: Marcine Humphrey, 845-485-7697
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