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On May 23, 2017, a new Philadelphia ordinance will go into effect that prohibits employers and employment agencies from asking about a job applicant’s wage history. The ordinance amends Title 9 of the Philadelphia Code, adding wage equity measure to Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance.

Specifically, the ordinance prohibits employers or employment agencies from:

  • Asking about a job applicant’s wage history (either in writing or in another way);
  • Requiring candidates to disclose their wage history;
  • Conditioning employment or an interview on an applicant’s disclosure of wage history;
  • Relying on the applicant’s wage history in determining the wages at any time in the employment process, including negotiating or drafting an employment contract (unless the candidate “knowingly and willingly” disclosed their wage history); or
  • Retaliating against a prospective employee if they do not comply with any wage history inquiry.

The definition of wages is broadly defined, and includes all earnings, including benefits and “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,” such as other lawful deductions.

Complaints have to be filed within 300 days of an alleged violation with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (“Commission”). If the investigation is not concluded within a one year period, the individual can take the matter to court within two years of the Commission’s dismissal. Employers may be subject to “equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.”

Employers should review their hiring applications and other materials, removing inquiries about wage history. In addition, they should review their policies and procedures, reminding recruiters and hiring managers not to ask applicants about their salary history.

Corporate Screening can accommodate employers in Philadelphia if they wish to no longer receive wage information as part of a background report in order to avoid any appearance of misuse of wage history when determining wages.   If you wish to discuss your options, please contact your account representative.

Important Note to East Coast Employers

Massachusetts was the first state to prohibit wage history inquiries, but it appears that other states and cities on the East coast may adopt similar legislation.

  • In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed Executive Order 21, which prohibits New York City agencies from asking about salary history before extending a conditional offer of employment.
  • Pending legislation in New York City would prohibit public and private employers from asking about applicants’ wage history.