Philadelphia’s Salary-History Ban Takes Effect Sept. 1

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer August 12, 2020
Philadelphia skyline

​The city of Philadelphia on Sept. 1 will start to enforce a ban on employers asking job candidates about their salary history or relying on pay history to determine wages. The city's 2017 law is considered by many to be a test for the future of salary-history bans across the country.

We've rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other outlets to provide context.

Opponents Shift Position

Business groups initially challenged the law, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce sued the city over it, claiming it violated employers' freedom of speech rights.

After years of litigation and a recent setback at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February, the Chamber decided to collaborate with the city on drafting regulatory guidance for enforcing the law.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer)

SCOTUS Passes on the Issue

The U.S. Supreme Court in July declined to review lower courts' split decision over whether prior salary is a "factor other than sex" that can justify a pay disparity under the federal Equal Pay Act, which requires "equal pay for equal work regardless of sex."

(Bloomberg Law)

More Jurisdictions Are Banning Salary-History Inquiries

A number of states and localities have enacted prohibitions on asking job candidates about their pay history, though these prohibitions vary in terms, scope and applicability. Additionally, some states and localities ban salary-history inquiries from public employers only.


SHRM: Employers Use Pay History to Stay Competitive

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) stated that employers, acting in good faith, should have the ability to set salaries based on business and organizational needs and that employers use pay history to make attractive offers and to keep their own pay structure competitive, among other legitimate purposes.

(SHRM Online)

Pay Transparency Fosters Gender Equity

The pay gap between men and women disappears for most jobs when employers adopt transparent pay practices, research shows. Compensation data and software firm PayScale examined a comparison of pay for men and women with the same experience and education doing the same job in the same geographic location, finding that women earn 98 cents for every dollar earned by men. However, when employees said they have a transparent pay process at their company, women were estimated to earn between $1 and $1.01 for every dollar men earn—effectively erasing the gender pay gap.

(SHRM Online)



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