Thursday, February 6, 2020
Third Circuit Upholds Philadelphia Ban on Employers Asking About Salary History Against First Amendment Challenge
In a decision that could have national implications for the wage equity movement, a federal appeals court Thursday sided with the city of Philadelphia, saying it can ban employers from asking job applicants their salary history.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit partly reversed a 2018 lower court decision that said the city could not ban employers from asking about salary history, but could ban them from relying on it to set wages. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce sued the city after the law was passed in 2017, claiming it violated the commercial-speech rights of employers.***
The 67-page unanimous opinion, representing the three-judge panel, was written by Judge Theodore McKee, who wrote that while the provision does limit employers’ speech, it is “only because that limitation prevents the tentacles of any past wage discrimination from attaching to an employee’s subsequent salary.”***
Philadelphia was the first city in the country to pass such a ban, following a statewide ban in Massachusetts. More than a dozen states and municipalities followed suit, including New Jersey.