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New Philadelphia law prohibits employers to ask employee’s past salary

In an attempt to address the male versus female salary variation, numerous U.S. counties have created comparable salary statutes which restrict businesses from inquiring past wages records from potential job applicants.

The theory appears to be that if women’s wages currently lag men’s for illegitimate reasons, and if employers base new starting salaries in any significant measure on salary histories (which in turn would be affected by improperly low historical salaries for women), then gender wage discrepancies will be more likely to persist.

job applicantsSubsequently, Philadelphia is the very first metropolis to embrace the “wage-gap” regulations. Motivated by the enactment of Massachusetts recently passed wage-gap legislation, this bill will modify Philadelphia’s Fair Practices regulation which forbids HR managers that want job applicants to disclose their past wage history at any stage of the hiring as well as onboarding process.

A couple of exceptions are invoked to protect the employer such as their limited right to consider past salary history if the potential employee knowingly chooses to disclose the information voluntarily.  This law however, does not apply for government positions whereby federal law authorizes past salary disclosure for employment verification purposes.


The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance is being amended to make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer or employment agency to inquire about various aspects of a prospective employee’s wage history. The city is the first to ban employers to do so. Enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, ignoring the laws under the Ordinance could result in substantial fines and criminal penalties.

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