Philadelphia Adopts Wage Equity Ordinance

On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Wage Equity Bill into law. The new law, influenced by the Massachusetts pay equity law, makes it unlawful for Philadelphia employers and employment agencies to ask about an applicant’s wage and benefit history or to rely on such applicant’s wage history to determine future wages. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against any candidate who fails to respond to any wage inquiry.

The law takes effect on May 23, 2017, and aims to address historic wage gaps which affect women and minorities, by prohibiting employers from basing compensation on a candidate’s wages at a previous employer, given the historical pay inequities between men and women and minorities. In its “finding” sections, the new law provides statistical examples of wage disparities and encourages employers to set salary offers based on the job responsibilities of the position sought, rather than prior wages.

Nothing in the law prohibits an applicant from disclosing voluntarily his or her compensation history. And, employers may still ask a candidate about his/her compensation expectations.

The law also requires employers to post fair practices notices, which will be made available by the Commission.

Employers should carefully review their employment applications and related documents to ensure compliance by May 23, 2017.

For answers to any questions regarding this blog, please feel free to contact an attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department.

Elizabeth Cowit is Counsel in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department.
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