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A federal appeals court ruled Monday that salary history cannot be used to justify a wage gap between men and women, in a case that employee advocates said highlights a key issue that has institutionalized gender compensation inequities.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which heard the case Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education en banc last year, found that an employee’s prior salary—either alone or in a combination of factors—cannot be used to justify paying women less than men in comparable jobs.

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