A Pennsylvania federal district court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to declare unconstitutional a Philadelphia ordinance making it unlawful for employers to inquire into a job applicant’s wage history during the hiring process.
As we previously reported, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the “Chamber”) sought to enjoin the new city law in April 2017, arguing, among other things, that it violates the First Amendment rights of the Chamber’s members. The city agreed to indefinitely delay implementation of the ordinance— previously scheduled to become effective on May 23, 2017—pending the resolution of the legal challenge.
The city moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the Chamber failed to plead specific allegations about harm that would be faced by any of its individual business members, and therefore that the Chamber lacked standing to maintain the suit. In granting the city’s motion, the district court found that “as presently pled, it is not clear that one of the Chamber’s members will be adversely affected as the Chamber has failed to allege that any member actually inquires about or relies on wage history, and the City does need to know the identity of a member to respond to the Chamber’s claim of injury.” Therefore, the court held, “[t]he Chamber must identify a member who will suffer specific harm as a result of the ordinance,” and “[b]ecause the Chamber has not met its burden to show that at least one of its members would have standing to bring this suit,” the complaint was dismissed.
UPDATE: The Chamber has renewed its legal challenge to the Philadelphia ordinance, filing an amended complaint two weeks after the district court’s initial dismissal. In the amended complaint, the Chamber and eleven of its member businesses provide additional information describing the purported impact of the legislation on their businesses.
We will continue to report on any further developments.