Israel’s highest court has ruled that when women sue their employers for pay discrimination, it is up to the employer to prove that its pay rates were fair, according to Reuters.
In the past it was up to Israeli women who sued for pay discrimination to prove that any pay disparity resulted from gender discrimination. Now, once a female plaintiff proves “the existence of a significant gap in wages,” the burden of showing compliance with anti-discrimination law passes to the employer.
The case originated in a hardware store that paid the plaintiff only 70% of a similarly situated male employee’s compensation. (On average women in Israel are paid just 66% of what men receive. In the United States it’s 77%.) The high court overruled a lower court’s finding that the disparity was legal because it resulted from the employees’ salary negotiations.
The AP wrote that a legal adviser to the organization that filed the lawsuit said the high court’s decision shifts the burden of proof in pay discrimination cases to the employer. “An employer cannot hide behind the fact that a woman asked for less money.” This ruling, she said, “gives women more leverage.”
Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz credited the ruling with “dramatically strengthening women’s rights at the work place.” It notes that the anti-discrimination law at issue in the case “also forbids discrimination over sexual preferences, personal status, pregnancy, fertility treatments, race, age, religion and nationality.” This ruling should make it easier for victims of those categories of discrimination to prevail in lawsuits against their employers.
Photo credit: European Parliament