On Thursday, October 27th Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law legislation that expands the scope of the city’s prevailing wage ordinance to encompass service employees at universities, hospitals and other businesses that receive government funds. The legislations, which was unanimously approved by the Philadelphia City Council, goes into effect immediately. Philadelphia’s prevailing wage ordinance was first passed in the 1950s, but in recent years has been expanded to cover more workers in the city. In substance, the ordinance requires employers to pay employees in the city covered by the ordinance a prevailing wage which, as the city explains, “is a rate of pay determined by the U.S. Department of Labor based upon the particular geographic area for a given class of labor and type of project.” A prevailing wage, as defined by the law, is typically higher than the wages that an employer would otherwise pay and, in some instances, is tied to wage rates negotiated by unions. Both before and after the expansion of the ordinance was signed into law, Mayor Kenney and members of City Council issued statements making it clear that the change to the ordinance was intended to raise the wages for thousands of people working in Philadelphia.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s death created a 4-4 split among liberal and conservative-leaning Justices, rendering tidy scorecards and trends regarding this past Supreme Court session’s employment law jurisprudence imprudent. The employment law “blockbuster” decisions, which many had hoped for, never debuted. Instead, the Court punted several cases back to circuit courts and issued deadlocked ties or rulings limited in scope.