On December 8, 2016, Philadelphia City Council attempted to level the playing field for women in Philadelphia with respect to equal pay when it voted to amend the Philadelphia Code to include a provision on wage equity. Bill 16840, which is currently in Mayor Kenney’s office and expected to be signed, would prevent an employer from asking a prospective employee about his or her prior wages. The provision would also prevent an employer from retaliating against a prospective employee for refusing to provide wage information. In conjunction with this Bill, the City Council presented some staggering statistics about wages in Pennsylvania; for every dollar a man makes, Caucasian women make only 79 cents, African-American women only make 68 cents and Latinas only 56 cents. The Bill recognized that wages should be based on job responsibilities, education and experience, not prior salary. Once the Bill is signed, penalties for violating the law could include hiring, compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $2,000, reasonable attorneys’ fees and a fine up to $2,000. Once signed by Mayor Kenney, the amendment does not become effective for 120 days. It is important to note that this ban does not prevent an employee from voluntarily disclosing salary history.
A similar Bill, proposing to amend Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law, was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in September of 2016 but no action has yet been taken. In August of 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to ban employers from inquiring into prospective employees’ salary history.