A federal appeals court just resurrected the salary history ban that will now prevent Philadelphia employers from asking job applicants about how much they are paid or setting new salaries based on pay history. Thanks to February 6th 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, employers in Philadelphia must immediately alter their hiring practices and cease the practice of asking questions about compensation history on applications, in interviews, and at any stage during the hiring practice. You must also ensure that you do not use this forbidden information when setting new salary levels. What do employers need to know about today’s ruling and how best to come into compliance?
According to the late great Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part.” The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (the “Court”), however, begs to differ with The Heartbreakers’ leading man. After waiting for over a year to receive a decision from the aforementioned Court with respect to the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s Wage Equity Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), employers are left with more questions than answers.
 On December 8, 2016, Philadelphia City Council passed Philadelphia Bill No. 16084 which was the Ordinance in its original iteration. The Ordinance was signed into law by Mayor Jim Kenney on January 23, 2017. It was to take effect on May 23, 2017. On April 6, 2017, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Ordinance as unconstitutional in violation of businesses’ First Amendment rights, and also sought a Preliminary Injunction enjoining enforcement of the Ordinance. Thereafter, the Court entered a stay as to enforcement of the Ordinance, and, after extensive briefing and oral argument on the matter, the Court issued its ruling on April 20, 2018.
With the recent buzz about President Donald Trump’s removal of federal protections for transgender students that were implemented under the Obama Administration, the states and school systems have been left to determine if and how to implement protections for transgender students.
The City of Philadelphia will now have the authority to shut down a business within the city for an undefined “period of time” if the business severely or repeatedly violates Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination laws, under a bill signed by Mayor Kinney on June 22, 2017.
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.
On July 1, 2016, the City of Philadelphia’s new Wage Theft Ordinance went into effect. In substance, the Ordinance provides employees who fall within the scope of the Ordinance another means for seeking to recover unpaid wages (i.e., “wage theft” under the Ordinance), it creates the position of wage theft coordinator in Philadelphia, and it imposes new compliance obligations on employers who are subject to the Ordinance.
Philadelphia has long been at the forefront of legislation limiting the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process, but, recently, Philadelphia expanded its existing legislation. In 2012, Philadelphia enacted the commonly-referred-to "Ban the Box" legislation, prohibiting employers from inquiring about a job applicant's criminal history before or during the applicant's first interview.