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Philadelphia Salary History Legislation Challenged on First Amendment Grounds

Philadelphia passed a Wage Equity Ordinance in 2015 which was to become effective May 23, 2017. The ordinance prohibits employers from requiring a prospective employee provide their wage history prior to a job offer. In a unique change of circumstances, a federal judge has ordered a temporary stay on enforcement of the Ordinance. The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against the city challenging Philadelphia’s Wage Equity Ordinance. Specifically, the Chamber argues that the ordinance’s bar against employers inquiring about the salary histories of job applicants is a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

Philadelphia is not alone in enacting legislation in an effort to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination. In fact, many jurisdictions across the country  are considering similar legislation, while NYC and Massachusetts have already passed such legislation. While the Chamber notes that it strongly supports the goal of eliminating gender-based wage discrimination, it argues that Philadelphia has shown no evidence that barring inquiries into salary history will help to do so.

The decision in this case will have broad implications on how far cities and states can go in limiting employer speech.

Click here to read the Ordinance

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