Philadelphia’s Wage Law Violates First Amendment

Wage Gap

Wage Gap

Last month a federal judge sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the recently enacted prohibition against asking job applicants their wage history violated the first amendment.  The Philadelphia City Council enacted the ordinance to level the playing field with respect to the wage gap between men and woman.  For a discussion surrounding the history and specific components of this law, please click here for my earlier post.

Philadelphia’s Wage History Law

Philadelphia’s Wage History Law had two main components- an inquiry provision and a reliance provision.  The Court held that the inquiry provision is the prong that violated the First Amendment.  Specifically, the Court held that there is no legitimate reason that would prevent an employer from asking an employee what he or she earned at their previous job.  For this reason, the Ordinance’s restriction on freedom of speech violated the First Amendment  It is worth noting that the second prong of the Ordinance, the reliance provision did not violate the terms of the First Amendment.  Specifically Judge Goldberg wrote, “I conclude that the city’s inquiry provision violates the First Amendment. Although the ordinance represents a significant positive attempt to address the wage gap, the First Amendment compels me to enjoin implementation of the inquiry provision.  The reliance provision, however, does not offend the First Amendment and remains intact. I commend the city for pursuing a novel method of attempting to reduce the wage gap, but am bound by the First Amendment’s exacting requirements for speech restrictions.”  To read  this Opinion  click here.


The take away is that the employment landscape changes almost on a daily basis and this is just another reason why it makes sense to have an attorney take a look at your employee handbook to make sure it is up to date.   Douglas Leavitt is an attorney with Danziger Shapiro and focuses his practice on guiding business with their daily operational needs.  Please feel free to contact him or any of the other attorneys at Danziger Shapiro to discuss how this new change will affect your business or any other issue you may have that concerns you and your business.

This entry is presented for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.



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