Employers banned from inquiring about applicant's salary history

Pat Loeb
May 02, 2018 - 7:16 pm
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that requires equal pay for women.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The city has lost its attempt to bar employers from asking about a job applicant's salary history. 

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Philadelphia businesses who said the law violated freedom of speech. Now the city is deciding whether to appeal.

Councilman Bill Greenlee sponsored the bill as a means to address wage inequity, where historic pay discrimination compounds itself over years as employers make offers based on prior wages. 

He said he's disappointed the judge didn't see it that way.

"I don't believe that it's a First Amendment issue when there are other questions we can't ask in employment, like religion, sexual orientation," Greenlee said. "They're for reasons, and this is for a good reason."

The judge did, however, commend the city for attempting a novel way to address the wage gap, though he warned employers that they cannot use salary history in determining compensation or they could be open to discrimination claims.

Terry Fromson, Women's Law Project managing attorney, argued state equal pay laws must be strengthened.

"They are the weakest in the nation," she said.

Since Philadelphia's law passed in December 2016, six states and four cities have passed similar measures, banning salary history questions without challenge.

That's one reason Greenlee said he's hoping the decision will be appealed — a decision he is leaving to the Law Department.