Salary Questions Are History in Philadelphia

| Oct 28, 2020 | Employment Law Defense

Interviewing for a job can be a long, drawn-out process where applicants are asked countless questions about all aspects of their experience and work history. In many interviews, one common inquiry surrounded salary history, which became a sticking point for wage-equity proponents.

In early August, Pennsylvania officials announced that salary-related questions to job applicants would no longer be part of the employment search process. On the first of September and following a three-year journey, the policy went into effect.

The Fight over a New Mandate

The new mandate was in response to pay inequities based on gender and race that only increase over time. Various studies reveal that female employees make 80 cents to every dollar a male staff member earns. The gap only grows when it comes to women of color.

Passed in 2017, the long path to enactment resulted from the city’s Chamber of Commerce and corporate leaders filing a lawsuit against the city. In the legal action, they cited no evidence that sidestepping the salary history question would not close any perceived gap. They also claimed that the ordinance violated the commercial-speech rights of businesses.

While they prevailed in a 2018 lower-court decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District partially reversed the decision, ruling that the city could proceed with the ban. Instead of taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, officials decided to work with the city on the new policy’s specific regulations.

The regulations now clarify that salary history bans only apply when an employer is interviewing an applicant for a job based in Philadelphia, not a company’s main office or the location of the interview. Also, promotions and transfers within a company where they are working currently would not qualify.