Philadelphia enacts Wage Equity Ordinance, prohibiting employers from asking about salary history

On Jan. 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Philadelphia Wage Equity Ordinance (“Ordinance”) into law. The new Ordinance (File #160840) amends the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance to prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s wage history at any point during the hiring process. The measure was unanimously approved by the Philadelphia City Council in December 2016.

Specifically, the Ordinance makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, or its employee or agent thereof “to inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview or employment on disclosure of wage history, or to retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry” or for otherwise opposing any act considered unlawful under the Philadelphia law.

The Ordinance goes further by making it unlawful to rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer in determining what to pay the individual at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of an employment contract, unless the applicant has knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history.

These prohibitions do not apply to actions taken pursuant to federal, state, or local law specifically authorizing disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes.

The Ordinance was signed into law on Jan. 23, 2017 and will take effect 120 days from this date.

Both Comcast – one of the largest employers in Philadelphia – and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce expressed displeasure with the bill, claiming it violates the First Amendment. Comcast in particular vowed to challenge the measure in court. Despite the threat, Kenney went through with signing the measure, claiming that he is confident the law would withstand a legal challenge and the city would ultimately prevail in court.

For additional information on this recent trend, please see our previous ComplianceAlert: Growing trend to prohibit salary history inquiries may create compliance concerns for employers.

Source: CCH Intelliconnect, Jan. 27, 2017 HR Tracker

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