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Court: Prior Salary Can't Justify Lower Pay for Women

A federal appeals court ruled that employers may not pay women less than men based on prior salaries when hiring for the same job.

The decision was a turnaround for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year ruled that employers could consider salary history in hiring. But the full court stepped over that decision by a three-judge panel, and also reversed its own ruling in a related case more than 35 years ago.

It is a significant opinion, in part because it was penned by Judge Stephen Reinhardt before he died last month. The "liberal lion" spared no one in thrashing a history of unequal pay for women.

Ninth Cir. Decides: Are Cosmetology Students Employees?

For the Marinello Schools of Beauty, an adverse court decision would have required a complete make-over of the business plan.

Students had sued the cosmetology school, alleging they were treated like employees and were owed money for cleaning up salons and other menial tasks. The school answered that they were students fulfilling educational requirements.

In Benjamin v. B&H Education, Inc., the courts said the schools were just doing business as usual. For now, students will get the haircut when working for cosmetology licenses.

9th Circuit Will Reexamine Whether Employers Can Pay Women Less

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will take a second look at a decision that said employers can pay women less than men for the same job.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court said in April that women can be paid less based on salary histories. An en banc court will revisit that decision, which said pay disparities between men and women are lawful if the difference is not based on gender.

"If prior salary alone is responsible for the disparity, requiring an employer to consider factors in addition to prior salary cannot resolve the problem that the EEOC and the plaintiff have identified," Judge Lynn S. Adelman wrote in Rizo v. Yovino.

The Ninth Circuit has weighed in on a growing circuit split over Dodd-Frank's whistleblower protections, reading the statute broadly to encompass internal whistleblowers as well as those who work with the SEC.

The case stems from a lawsuit brought by Paul Somers, former VP of Digital Realty Trust, Inc., a data center company. Somers suit alleges that he was fired after reporting potential securities law violations to the company's senior management. He accused the company of violating Section 21F of the Exchange Act, which includes the whistleblower protections established by Dodd-Frank.

A county sheriff accused of creating a sexually hostile work environment by hugging and kissing a coworker isn't entitled to summary judgement, the Ninth Circuit has ruled. Yolo County Sheriff Edward G. Prieto was accused by Victoria Zetwick, a correctional sergeant, of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act based on allegedly over a hundred "unwelcome hugs and/or kisses" over a 12-year period.

The district court had granted Prieto's motion for summary judgment, finding that the accused conduct was not severe or pervasive enough to establish a hostile work environment, but the unanimous three-judge Ninth Circuit panel reversed in an unpublished opinion, ruling that a reasonable jury could find Prieto's conduct to have violated the law.

Just two days after Labor Day, the Ninth Circuit has ruled against Uber drivers in a decision that could seriously limit their ability to pursue class actions against the company. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Uber's driver contracts, which include causes requiring individual arbitration of disputes, were not unconscionable and could be enforced against the drivers.

The ruling comes in response to a driver class action over background checks, not the massive employee misclassification class action the company also faces, but the Ninth's decision could have significant implications for those plaintiffs as well.

9th Cir: Miwok Indians Did Not Waive Sovereign Immunity

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians did not inadvertently waive their sovereign immunity by removing a state court matter into a federal court. This is largely because such a move did not constitute a clean and unequivocal waiver.

With or without a trial, the ruling is a landmark victory for various Native American nations' sovereignty.

'Not a Church' -- Dignity Health Plan Doesn't Qualify for ERISA Exception

In what can be fairly called a legal nice try, the Ninth Circuit's Court of Appeals has ruled that Dignity Health's pension plan does not qualify for ERISA's church plan exemption.

It's a a ruling that is so far consistent with the findings of other courts on the subject. Only this time, it looked like it could have gone either way from the start. After all, Dignity Health at least started out as a church.

Ninth Cir. Upholds 'Neutral Timekeeping' in Employee Pay

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld what is quickly becoming doctrine in all the federal courts: neutral-timekeeping is lawful under the FLSA.

The decision comes as a blow to Andre Corbin and other hourly wage-earners like him who allege lost wages due to unfavorable rounding to the nearest quarter. But it's really no surprise given other courts' views on the matter.

Uber Lawsuit: Chen's Class Certification to Be Reviewed by 9th Cir.

Remember how it seemed that the world was coming to and end in the case of O'Connor v. Uber when District Court Judge Chen certified a class of Uber drivers that numbered approximately 150,000? Uber was not too happy about that and appealed the class certification. They got denied once.

Just Kidding! It looks like the Ninth Circuit will be hearing that issue after all. It should be emphasized that the challenge to certification does not stop the case, but a decertification of the class would be a major step back for Uber plaintiffs who've been pushing for employee status and labor protections.