As you may recall, late last year we discussed a new Philadelphia law that banned private-sector employers from asking job applicants about their wage and fringe benefits history. The Wage Equity Bill, which was aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, prohibits asking or requiring an applicant to disclose his/her pay history as well as retaliating against an applicant for not providing such information. The Bill was scheduled to go into effect on May 1, 2017.
Earlier this month, however, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia filed a legal challenge to the Bill in federal district court, claiming that the Bill violated First Amendment free speech rights. The Chamber argues that the Bill should be subject to “strict scrutiny” review, which requires the Bill to be narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest. The Chamber’s argument is that the Bill is not narrowly tailored because the city has not shown that asking a job applicant about his/her wage history is related to gender-based pay discrimination.
The Chamber also asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Bill from going into effect on May 1. Although the court is not expected to hold a hearing on the injunction until next month, it entered a stay earlier last week that will delay the Bill’s effective date until the court can rule on the injunction.
Although this development provides temporary relief for Philadelphia employers, this issue is far from settled. We will be sure to update you on any key developments in this litigation.