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Do You Have to Disclose Your Salary History?  New Philadelphia Law Says No

January 10, 2017 Workplace Discrimination

Legislation is intended to help close the wage gap between men and women

Women in the City of Philadelphia may have just gotten a hand in the fight for fair wages.

Philadelphia just became the first city in the nation to pass legislation outlawing questions about salary history.

The ordinance is intended to help close the wage gap between men and women by breaking the cycle of wage disparity that may occur over a woman’s working life.

Let’s take a look at what the law says and what it means to you.

Gaps Within the Wage Gap

The wage equity ordinance is not a done deal yet, but it’s a pretty sure bet that it will become a law very soon.

The bill was approved by the Philadelphia City Council in December and is set to become a law 120 days after it’s signed by the mayor. Mayor Jim Kenney has already indicated that he intends to approve the law.

The intention of the impending law is to help ensure that worker compensation is based on skills and responsibilities, rather than salary history. That way, a woman’s pay will not remain unfairly skewed because of prior jobs with low pay.

As the text of the bill notes, women are generally paid about $.79 for every one dollar a man makes.

The bill also cites U.S. Census Bureau figures that reveal that wage disparity is even worse for women of color. For every one dollar a man makes, African American women are paid only $.68, Latinas are paid only $.56, and Asian women are paid $.81.

Since the Equal Pay Act was passed back in 1963, the wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half cent per year, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

The text of the bill states: “Since women are paid on average lower wages than men, basing wages upon a worker’s wage at a previous job only serves to perpetuate gender wage inequalities and leave families with less money to spend on food, housing, and other essential goods and services.”

What the Law Will Cover

Once the new law goes into effect, it will be considered unlawful for employers, employment agencies, or their agents to:

  • Inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history
  • Require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview on disclosure of wage history
  • Retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry

For purposes of this law, wages includes all earnings, whether determined by time, task, piece, commission, or any other method of compensation, including fringe benefits.

It’s important to note that you may willingly disclose your wage history if you so choose.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in terms of your compensation, it’s wise to speak to an attorney to find out about your rights.

Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.