Philadelphia Prohibits Employers From Asking for Job Applicants’ Wage Histories

May 31, 2017

The city is one of the first in the country to enact this type of legislation.

It is usually a given that employers have the stronger hand when negotiating employment agreements with prospective employees. Often employers ask job applicants for the details of their wage history. This creates a ceiling for the starting pay offered by the employer. If job applicants refuse to provide this information their chances of being hired are diminished.

Employee rights advocates have long argued that this is unfair.

The city of Philadelphia agrees. According to an article by Jonathon Landesman and Joshua A. Brand, in CONSTRUCTION law signal, “On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law a wage equity ordinance that makes it unlawful for an employer to ask the wage history of a prospective employee at any stage of the hiring process…unless the candidate has ‘knowingly and willingly’ disclosed such information to the employer during the hiring process.”

It is now illegal, in Philadelphia, to refuse to hire an employee who declines to offer wage history information.

Local businesses claim the “intrusive effect of the law is disproportionate to its intended objective.” Comcast is considering a lawsuit against the city claiming the law “violates employers’ free speech rights under the First Amendment.”

Mr. Landesman and Mr. Brand recommend that employers in Philadelphia “remove any questions about a candidate’s wage history” from any stage of the employment process.

Will the ordinance trigger similar ordinances in other cities?


Philadelphia Becomes First City to Prohibit Employers from Inquiring About Prospective Employee’s Past Earnings, Jonathon Landesman and Joshua A. Brand, CONSTRUCTION law signal, Feb. 1, 2017.