Philadelphia Salary History Ban Partially Blocked

May 04, 2018

A federal judge blocked Philadelphia's ban on salary history inquiries on First Amendment grounds, but also ruled it is unlawful for employers to rely on wage histories at any stage of the employment process—including negotiating employment contracts—unless the person knowingly and willingly discloses her or his salary history to the employer.  

What the judge said: “Although the Ordinance represents a significant positive attempt to address the wage gap, the First Amendment compels me to enjoin implementation of the Inquiry Provision.  The Reliance Provision, however, does not offend the First Amendment and remains intact.”

The decision comes at a time
when measures banning salary history inquiries have become increasingly popular, but are now likely to be challenged in court.  
 
Should the ruling be upheld on appeal, it could impact similar laws that seven states and seven other localities have adopted. 

Practical implications:  Despite the First Amendment right to ask about salary history, employers may still be wary of asking the question if it provides evidence of a violation of what the court did uphold: reliance upon salary history in setting pay.