Philadelphia’s Wage Equity Bill Goes Into Effect on May 23, 2017

Philadelphia is the first city in the nation that prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s prior earnings. In an effort to create a bridge to the gender pay gap, Mayor Kenney signed the Wage Equity Bill which applies to both public and private companies. The law goes into effective on May 23, 2017.

The Wage Equity Bill would add Section 9-1131 to the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance.

Supporters contend that since women have historically been paid less than men, the practice of asking for a salary history can help perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries for women, continuing throughout their careers.

Women in Pennsylvania are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to a 2015 Census Bureau report. For black and Hispanic women, the pay gap is even wider.

Key provisions are:

  • It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof 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.
    • 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.
  • This subsection 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.
  •  For the purposes of this Section,  “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.

The law also includes a posting requirement, for which the City has not yet provided a poster, but plans to do so in advance of the May 23rd effective date.

Recommended Actions

Review job applications and remove any wage history questions.

Review your hiring and interview policies and processes. Revise them to eliminate inquiry into wage history at any stage in the employment process.

Train all individuals involved in recruitment, hiring, interviewing, and drafting and contract negotiation to comply with the requirements of this law.

 

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