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Mayor Kenney Signs the Philadelphia Wage Equity Bill Into Law

By Peter R. Rosenzweig

Despite strong resistance from local Philadelphia businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and Comcast, Mayor Kenney signed the Philadelphia Wage Equity Bill into law on January 23, 2017.  Mayor Kenney initially delayed the signing of the Bill, requesting that City Solicitor Sozi Tulante review the legal issues raised by Comcast.  After Tulante comprehensively reviewed the Bill, he advised Mayor Kenney that it would withstand a challenge such as that threatened by Comcast and the Chamber of Commerce.  Relying on Tulane’s guidance, Mayor Kenney signed the Bill making Philadelphia the first city in the United States to enact such a law.  The Bill will officially become law on May 23, 2017 and, as of that date, employers in Philadelphia will be prohibited from asking about a job applicant’s prior earnings.

Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed this Bill in December 2016, with the goal of narrowing the pay gap between men and women and other minorities.  Council noted that pay should be based on what the job is, not what the applicant previously earned and that basing the current wage on the applicant’s prior wage will likely perpetuate the wage gap.  After May 23rd, we’ll be able to gauge whether implementation of the Bill achieves its desired effect of pay parity between males and females.