Philadelphia Salary History Ban Challenged In Court

April 21, 2017

The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is challenging the city's Wage Equity Ordinance, which bars employers from asking job candidates for their salary histories, arguing that it deprives businesses of their First Amendment rights.  Because of the lawsuit, Philadelphia has announced that it will not enforce the ordinance that was scheduled to go into effect on May 23, 2017.  The legal challenge could hinge on how far governments can go in regulating employer speech and may set the stage for additional litigation over other state and local pay history laws.  The Chamber said in its brief that the city showed no evidence that inquiries about an applicant’s wage history had any relationship to the persistence of gender-based wage discrimination.  The ordinance is similar to recently enacted laws in other jurisdictions, including California, Massachusetts, and New York City.  Several states, including Georgia, Illinois, Montana, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont, are also considering such legislation.  A Wall Street Journal editorial praising the lawsuit noted: "If the courts bless Philadelphia’s ordinance, employers around the country may soon have one more barrier to hiring the best workers for the job."