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April 24, 2017

Philly salary history bill put on hold amid legal challenge

A wage equity bill that would bar Philadelphia employers from asking applicants for their salary history has been has been temporarily stayed pending a lawsuit filed by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

Signed by Mayor Jim Kenney in January, the bill is intended to prevent workplace discrimination and ensure equal pay for women and minorities. A similar law was passed by the Massachusetts state legislature last August and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign a bill that would impose such restrictions on employers.

The Chamber, characterizing the bill as anti-business impediment, announced earlier in April that it had filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

"With this Ordinance, which would have no meaningful effect on closing the wage gap, we would only reinforce our unfortunate, anti-business reputation of having a city government that tells companies how to run their businesses," the Chamber said in a statement.

The law had been set to take effect May 23, but the Chamber's legal challenge argues that the measure violates an employer's First Amendment rights in part by restricting speech due to belief in a speculative outcome.

A federal judge stayed the effective date of the law on April 19 pending the resolution of a motion for a preliminary injunction, according to the National Law Review.

The city's decision not to enforce the law during this process is intended to help employers and employees avoid confusion in the interim.

Employers with operations in Philadelphia are advised to review their interviewing and hiring practices in the event the case is ultimately decided in favor of the city.