ILMA Compoundings - September 2020 - 35

to a different rule in the 9th Circuit,
which encompasses Alaska, Arizona,
California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho,
Montana, Nevada, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and Washington.
THE SPLITS
The 9th Circuit's decision, and the
Supreme Court's option not to hear
the case, leaves differing applications
of the EPQA across the country. Three
circuits allow salary history to influence pay decisions, two allow it only
if there is a "good business reason,"
and two allow pay discrepancies if
salary history is paired with another
justification. As always, get the advice
of counsel and HR professionals in
establishing hiring and pay practices,
especially in navigating this patchwork
of conflicting state and federal laws.
The EQPA became law in 1963,
and since then, various questions surrounding pay differentials have been
litigated. While the EQPA applies
federally, states have the option to
strengthen provisions of the law. Even
had the appeals court allowed the use
of salary history to set new salaries
under the EQPA, California and 17
other states have passed laws prohibiting such conduct in some form.
Simply summarized, each of these laws
does not allow salary history standing
alone to justify unequal pay, although
some states allow salary history to be

volunteered in making salary decisions, and others only after a job offer
has already been made.
IMPACT
As social discourse is increasingly
focused on structural discrimination,
salary history is an important area
of focus. Critics argue that it creates
a lifetime barrier to equal pay for
women and allows employers to pass
the "moral buck" to past employers.
The justification is often the value of
other benefits offered to women, such
as maternity leave, but does little to
satisfy the threshold question giving
rise to lawsuits under the EQPA: Is the
pay different for the same work?
An immediate change in offering the
same pay regardless of past history
could have a chilling effect on pay -
some workers get paid less to balance
personnel costs or even firings that
can be effectively discriminatory. The
Supreme Court does not often let
splits on interpretations of federal law
sit long (from the timetable of law,
which can be admittedly glacial), so
changes are likely to happen before too
long - just not now.
LEGAL 'HODGEPODGE'
"Hodgepodge" originated as a term
to describe agricultural stews made
up of whatever meat and vegetables
were lying around, and it's an accurate
metaphor for equal pay laws. One

The EQPA
became law in
1963, and since then,
various questions
surrounding pay
differentials have
been litigated."
state bowl will let you ask about
salary history but not make decisions;
another prohibits asking entirely. On
top of state laws, some local jurisdictions may have additional laws, such
as Kansas City and San Francisco.
Especially important for businesses
located in multiple states is to make
sure that there is a plan for decisionmakers in each state to follow, as the
penalties can be severe aside from even
the hassle of litigation. Conducting a
pay audit now to look for explanations
for pay differences can afford peace
of mind down the road, if and when
federal or state governments change
hiring laws.
Levetown serves as
associate counsel to ILMA
through Bassman, Mitchell,
Alfano & Leiter Chtd.
He may be reached at 202-466-6502 or
mlevetown@bmalaw.net.

35



ILMA Compoundings - September 2020

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ILMA Compoundings - September 2020 - 1
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