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This Day In Market History: Supreme Court Rules Women Must Get Equal Pensions

Wayne Duggan

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 35 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for companies to pay women lower pensions than men.

Where The Market Was

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day at 1,220.65 and the S&P 500 traded at 168.48. Today, the Dow is trading at 24,352.55 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,736.61.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 1983, Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY) debuted the arcade game Mario Bros. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) launched Microsoft Word, the most successful word processing application in history. The average price of a new house was $82,600.

Victory For Women’s Workplace Rights

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, companies had argued women live longer than men on average, and therefore shouldn't be entitled to as much pension as men. Justice Thurgood Marshall cited Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the ruling and said companies must treat employees as individuals rather than members of a group based on sex.

Unfortunately for retired women at the time, the Supreme Court disagreed with a lower court’s ruling that companies would be retroactively on the hook for previous payments. The 1983 ruling was a landmark case in women’s workplace rights, but female employees are still fighting for equal pay in the workplace to this day.

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