January 31, 2017 - Philadelphia Prohibits Employers From Asking Job Candidates For Salary History

In early December, Philadelphia City Council passed a “wage equity” bill prohibiting Philadelphia employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. Mayor Kenney signed the bill today. As a result, it is scheduled to take effect May 23, 2017.

As with other provisions of Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance, coverage is broad – the bill applies to employers with one or more employees in the City of Philadelphia and generally prohibits covered employers from seeking information about a prospective employee’s wage history. Covered employers may not:

  • inquire about wage history;
  • require disclosure of wage history; or
  • condition employment or consideration for employment on disclosure of wage history

The term “wages” is defined to include all earnings of an employee (including commissions and fringe benefits).

The bill also prohibits covered employers from relying on wage history information to determine the wage offered “at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract,” unless the applicant “knowingly and willingly” discloses such information. 

Finally, employers may not retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with an inquiry about their wage history.

The one exception to the law is if an employer is acting “pursuant to any federal, state or local law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes.”

In light of the new law, employers who use standard paper or electronic applications that include questions about wage history will need to revise those to comply with these restrictions. Moreover, because these restrictions apply during all phases of the hiring process, employers will need to educate interviewers and others about the new law. Perhaps most challenging, employers who have relied on workers’ salary histories in setting starting wages for some or all positions will need to rethink their approach.