[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [judgment] Tuesday that European companies may pay their male employees more in wages based on years of service even though women in the same positions may have less seniority due to childcare issues. The case was brought in 2001 against Great Britain's Health and Safety Executive [official website] by a British woman who learned she was being paid 9,000 pounds ($16,986) less than her male counterparts.
Health inspector Bernadette Cadman argued that domestic issues such as pregnancy and maternity leave often dictate the amount of time women can spend in the workforce leading to less seniority, and that employers should provide special justification when paying males higher wages. The ECJ disagreed, however, explaining that additional years of service allows for greater experience on the job which leads to improved work performance. Reuters has more.