Recently, there has been some intense legal debate regarding a recent Philadelphia law prohibiting employers from inquiring about the previous salary earned by a prospective new hire. This landmark legislation is unique to Philadelphia; it was the first municipality in the entire country to propose such a law banning employers from asking applicants about past pay.https://gazetteday.com/2017/09/karl-heideck-explains-salary-history-law-in-philadelphia/
Like all brand new legislation, there are challenges and growing pains that come with it. Sometimes unintended consequences spoil the original intent of the law. The controversial legislation received national attention because it was viewed as an unnecessary limit to the amount of information employer could gather about a potential hire. Meanwhile, proponents of workers rights argue that this process increases transparency in the hiring process, especially for those belonging to a traditionally marginalized group.
Karl Heideck, a notable contract law attorney in the city took some time to explain the intended purpose of this law. Originally the law was intended to help close the gender pay gap. Men have earned more than women in nearly all salaried positions in Philadelphia, and this gap only worsens when an employer knows the applicant’s prior salary.
This happens because most hiring managers have set guidelines regarding how much more they can offer a person based on their prior salary. Those who enter with higher salaries can expect to receive higher salaries for the same work. Because women already earn lower salaries than men for these positions the effect compounds on itself, creating a permanent culture of lower earnings for women.
When breaking down both sides of this argument Karl Heideck noted that not all employers in Philadelphia oppose the legislation. Many businesses view this measure as an overall positive development in terms of bringing equality to the workplace.
On the other side of the issue, Karl Heideck noted that the interpretation of this law can create pitfalls for employers. For example, it would violate the spirit of the law to independently research the types of salaries paid by a prospective employees previous employer for their position. It would be an explicitly illegal to ask the employer directly for a salary amount or range, but far more uncertain to pick up this information by context online.
Only time will tell just how this law will be applied and if it will be enforced properly in the city of Philadelphia. He would like to thank Karl Heideck for his analysis of this unique Philadelphia law, its history, and its intent.