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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed Bill No. 160840, a Wage Equity Law that prohibits employers from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants. A copy of the law – which is slated to take effect May 23, 2017 – is at

Bill No. 160840 amends Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code entitled “Regulation of Businesses, Trades and Professions” by adding a new Chapter on wage equity prohibiting both public and private employers from inquiring about salary history. The Ordinance takes effect 120 days from the date of enactment.

The Ordinance makes it unlawful for employers and employment agencies to inquire about a job applicant’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, condition employment or interviews on disclosure of wage history, or retaliate against job applicants for not complying with such inquires.

The Ordinance also makes it unlawful for employers and employment agencies to rely on wage history of job applicants from any current or former employer of the individual in determining their wages at any stage in the employment process unless the applicants knowingly disclose their wage history.

However, the Wage Equity Law “shall not apply to any actions taken by an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof, pursuant to any federal, state or local law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes.”

Women are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes in Pennsylvania, according to a United States Census Bureau 2015 report. Asian women are paid 81 cents to a dollar paid to men, African American women are paid 68 cents to a dollar paid to a man, and Latinas are paid 56 cents to a dollar paid to men.

According to the Ordinance: Since women are paid on average lower wages than men, basing wages upon a worker’s wage at a previous job only serves to perpetuate gender wage inequalities and leave families with less money to spend on food, housing, and other essential goods and services.

ESR News reported in August 2016 that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity to prevent wage discrimination based on gender and bar employers from requiring applicants to provide salary histories before receiving formal job offers. S.2119 takes effect July 1, 2018.

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