Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney [official website] on Monday signed a bill [text, PDF] into law making Philadelphia the first US city to bar employers from asking applicants about their past salaries. The bill is designed [official website] to help decrease the wage gap between men and women, as women on average earn 83 percent of men’s salaries [PEW study]. The Philadelphia ordinance allows employees to volunteer information about their salary histories but prohibits employers from asking for a prospective employees salary history. Violators of the rule can face up to a $2,000 fine. Comcast, headquartered in Philadelphia, has said that it will challenge the ordinance in court. Kenney responded [Think Progress report] last week: “We may get sued, we may not, but [the Philadelphia city council] passed this measure with a unanimous vote, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t sign it.”
The gap between wages earned by men and women has been a contentious issue in recent months. Philadelphia is the first city in the nation to legalize a ban on salary history inquiries, although the Massachusetts legislature passed a similar bill [text, official website] in 2016. New York City and the state legislatures of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are also considering similar measures. In November New York City mayor Bill de Blasio [official website] signed [official website] an executive order that bans city agencies from asking applicants about salary history. In March 2016 five members of the US women’s soccer team filed an equal pay complaint [JURIST report] against the US Soccer Federation. And in October 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill [JURIST report] that aims to close the wage gap between male and female employees.