Employment Law Update: Philadelphia Ordinance on Wage History Blocked

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia was awarded a preliminary injunction in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the implementation of a City of Philadelphia Ordinance which purported to: 1) prohibit an employer from inquiring about a prospective employee's wage history and 2) make it illegal for an employer to rely on wage history "at any stage in the employment process" to determine a salary for an employee.

The Court held that the "Inquiry Provision" of the City Ordinance violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The Court allowed the "Reliance Provision" to stand. 

The City's rationale was that relying on salary history arguably could perpetuate a perceived wage gap between genders.  

The actual relevant language of the "Inquiry Provision" of the Ordinance is below:

§ 9-1131.  Wage Equity.

(2)    Prohibition on Inquiries into Wage History.
(a)    It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof:
(i)    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 retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry or for otherwise opposing any act made unlawful by this Chapter.
(ii)    To rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer of the individual in determining the wages for such individual at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract, unless such applicant knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof.
(b)    This subsection (2) shall not apply to any actions taken by an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof, pursuant to any federal, state or local law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes.
(c)    For purposes of this Section 9-1131, “to inquire” shall mean to ask a job applicant in writing or otherwise, and “wages” shall mean all earnings of an employee, regardless of whether determined on time, task, piece, commission or other method of calculation and including fringe benefits, wage supplements, or other compensation whether payable by the employer from employer funds or from amounts withheld from the employee’s pay by the employer.

You can read the Court's entire opinion below: