Q. I understand that the Philadelphia Wage Ordinance was supposed to go into effect soon. Do I need to take action to comply now?
A. As we blogged previously, the new Philadelphia Ordinance would make it unlawful for employers in Philadelphia to inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history or require disclosure of wage history as a condition of employment. Employers would only be permitted to rely on such information if the prospective employee knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer.
The Ordinance provides that its requirements go into effect on May 23, 2017. On April 6, 2017, however, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce brought suit to challenge the Ordinance. The Chamber filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on the grounds that the ordinance violates the free speech rights of businesses under the First Amendment and is unconstitutionally vague.
On April 19, 2017, the Court issued a temporary restraining order staying the enforcement of the Ordinance until the Court can consider and decide the Chamber’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Thus, at least for now, the Ordinance will not go into effect on its May 23rd effective date.
While the suit has halted the effective date of the Ordinance for the time being, we recommend that employers take steps now to prepare in case the Chamber’s suit is unsuccessful. The Philadelphia Ordinance is one of several initiatives across the country enacted to limit employers’ ability to obtain salary history as part of the interview process, and we expect this trend to continue.
If the Ordinance ultimately is upheld, employers who do business in Philadelphia will have to revise their employment applications to delete any questions inquiring about an applicant’s wage history. Recruiters, HR personnel and managers also may need to be trained about the new law so that these individuals know not to ask wage-based questions during the interview process. In addition, employers may have to consider revising their Equal Employment Opportunity policies to add wage history to the list of protected categories.
-Tracey E. Diamond