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Philadelphia Bans Employers from Asking about Salary History in Job Interviews

By Michael Klazema on 1/25/2017

On December 8, 2016, the Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance that amends Title 9 of the Philadelphia Code, entitled "Fair Practices Ordinance: Protection Against Unlawful Discrimination," by prohibiting employers from inquiring about salary history. Mayor Kenney signed the ordinance on January 23, 2017, and it will go into effect 120 days from the date it is enacted into law. The ordinance offers the rationale that, "salary offers should be based upon job responsibilities of the position sought and not based upon the prior wages earned by the applicant."

Under §9-1131 (2), it is an unlawful practice for employers to:

  • Inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview or employment on disclosure of wage history, or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry or for otherwise opposing any act made unlawful by this chapter; and
  • Rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer of the individual, in determining the wages for such individual, at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract, unless such applicant knowingly or willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer, employment agency, employee, or agent.

There are exceptions to this ordinance. Subsection (2) excludes jobs for which federal, state, or local law specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes. 
Philadelphia is the first city in the country to ban employers from asking job applicants about their wage history, following in the footsteps of the state of Massachusetts that passed similar legislations in 2016.

The new ordinance is accessible here for review: 
https://phila.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2849975&GUID=239C1DF9-8FDF-4D32-BACC-296B6EBF726C

What This Means to You:

  • Employers in Philadelphia may not seek compensation history from job applicants (with some exceptions).
  • Employers cannot depend on the wage history from the applicant’s current or former employers to determine their salary (with some exception).
  • Employers may rely on the compensation history of the job applicant when the applicant willingly or knowingly disclosed their wage history. 


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