Philadelphia’s Wage Equity Ordinance Goes into Effect September 1st

Philadelphia Wage EquityGreat news! The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations will be enforcing the Wage Equity Ordinance on September 1, 2020. As you may recall from our previous blogs, the Ordinance was passed on January 23, 2017, but enforcement was put on hold due to litigation (click here for more information). The law makes it illegal for employers to ask about or require prospective employees to disclose their wage history or to use that information to determine their wages during the application or hiring process.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has recently released a regulation (Amended Regulation No. 7) that provides more clarification on how to enforce the law. The law prohibits employers from including a question on paper or electronic employment applications asking prospective employees to provide their salary history at any current or previous position, even if employers inform prospective employees that they do not need to answer the question. Employers may, however, ask a prospective employee other questions relevant to determining his or her wages. For example, the questions can be about:

  • the applicant’s salary requirements or expectations;
  • skill level;
  • objective measures of productivity that do not require disclosure of salary history, such as revenue, sales, production reports, or profits generated; or
  • experience relative to the position for which the applicant is being considered.

The Ordinance does not prohibit employers from obtaining and using market salary information from other sources, such as aggregate studies or surveys that cannot be used to ascertain the specific salary histories of individual job applicants.

The wage equity regulation also clarifies the definition of a covered employer. A covered employer includes “any person who does business in the City of Philadelphia through employees or who employs one or more employees exclusive of parents, spouse or children, including any public agency or authority; any agency, authority or other instrumentality of the Commonwealth; and the city, its department, boards and commissions.” Furthermore, a covered employer must also be “a person who engages in the process of interviewing a Prospective Employee with the intention of considering such Prospective Employee for a position located within the City.”

The Ordinance specifically prohibits an employer from retaliating against a prospective employee for refusing to provide his or her salary history. Job applicants may report violations of the Wage Equity Ordinance to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, including filing a formal complaint.

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