The City of Philadelphia has passed an ordinance that will make it unlawful for employers to inquire into an applicant’s wage history during the hiring process.  The law, which amends the city’s current Fair Practices Ordinance, will take effect on May 23, 2017.

The ordinance states that—absent a federal, state, or local law specifically authorizing the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes—it will be unlawful for an employer or its agent to:

  • inquire about, or require disclosure of, a prospective employee’s wage history, whether in writing or otherwise;
  • condition employment or consideration for an interview or employment on disclosure of wage history; or
  • rely on an prospective employee’s wage history obtained from a current or former employer in determining the individual’s wages at any stage in the employment process—including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract—unless the applicant “knowingly and willingly” discloses his or her wage history to the employer.

The ordinance prohibits retaliation against a prospective employee for failing to provide his or her wage history or for enforcing his or her rights under the law.

For purposes of the ordinance, “wages” include “all earnings of an employee,” including “fringe benefits, wage supplements, or other compensation whether payable by the employer from employer funds or from amounts withheld from the employee’s pay by the employer.”

Individuals alleging a violation of the law may file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the agency tasked with enforcing the Fair Practices Ordinance. Remedies provided under the Fair Practices Ordinance for unlawful employment practices include equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Philadelphia employers should take steps to inform their recruiters, hiring managers, human resources personnel, and others involved in the interview and hiring process of the new prohibition on salary history inquiries.

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended…

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended many of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration, before government agencies, and in private negotiations. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved billions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise operating companies, management companies, fund sponsors, boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters including executive and key person transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated, arbitrated, and mediated disputes for more than 20 years.

A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE).

Allan has served as longtime pro bono counsel to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Public Theater, among other nonprofit organizations.  He is a past Vice Chair of Repair the World, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes volunteers and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, and a past recipient of the Lawyers Alliance Cornerstone Award for extraordinary contributions through pro bono legal services.

Allan is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns…

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns, with a focus on legal compliance, risk management and mitigation strategies, and workplace culture considerations.

Laura regularly counsels clients across numerous industries on a wide variety of employment matters involving recruitment and hiring, employee leave and reasonable accommodation issues, performance management, and termination of employment . She also advises on preparing, implementing and enforcing employment and separation agreements, employee handbooks and company policies, as well as provides training on topics including discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog and The Proskauer Brief podcast.