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U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ NLJ

Business groups are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals ruling that said employers cannot use a worker’s prior salary history to justify paying men and women differently for comparable jobs.

The use of prior compensation in setting salary is a common part of the hiring practice, and outlawing it would create uncertainty for employers, according to the business advocates, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Society for Human Resource Management, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week in the Supreme Court.

“Employers large and small, in every region of the United States, have historically used prior salary as a metric to assess a range of matters, including the caliber and experience of applicants, the viability and competitiveness of their own compensation packages, and, ultimately, the fairness of the wages they pay to employees,” lawyers for the business groups, represented by Jonathan Franklin of Norton Rose Fulbright, said in the brief. “By placing wage-history data off limits for employers within the nation’s largest circuit, the court of appeals’ rule exacerbates a clear, acknowledged split regarding the legal viability of that important practice.”

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