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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM.

The U.S. Supreme Court pushed a major pay equity case back to a federal appeals court, leaving an open question for employment attorneys and companies seeking clarity on whether a worker’s salary history can be used to justify unequal pay.

The high court did not reach the merits of the case Yovino v. Rizo, a closely watched challenge to the scope of the Equal Pay Act. The justices returned the dispute to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after concluding the opinion should not have included the vote of Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who died shortly before the decision was released.

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