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The Philadelphia Wage Equity Ordinance

June 3, 2022 Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages

How It Protects Your Rights

You don’t have to tell interviewers how much you made in past jobs if you are applying for work in Philadelphia. That’s because the Philadelphia Wage Equity Ordinance, which went into effect in September 2020, makes it unlawful for any employer, hiring agency or agent to ask a job candidate about their salary history.

This law is an important step to reducing wage inequality, as low wages stay entrenched throughout a worker’s lifetime if employers are allowed to use their past pay history to determine what to pay them in the present.

Who Is Covered Under the Law?

The Philadelphia Wage Equity Ordinance is part of a city-wide anti-discrimination law called the Fair Practices Ordinance. Under that law, all employers, employment agencies, and agents working for those agencies are required to follow these rules.

Your rights are protected under this law as long as you’re applying for a position where you will be working in the city of Philadelphia. It doesn’t matter whether the employer is headquartered outside the city or where the interview occurs; if you are expected to report to work in Philadelphia, the ordinance applies.  

What Rules Do Employers Have To Follow?

Under the law, employers are not allowed to ask about your salary history when considering you for a new job. If the employer accidentally comes across information about your salary history, they are not allowed to rely on that information to decide your current pay package. 

The employer is, however, allowed to rely on current market data to determine what salaries to pay their employees. And as a job applicant, you are allowed to knowingly provide salary information—unprompted—if you believe it is in your best interest.

If the interviewer prompted you to reveal that information, it may not be considered knowingly or willingly revealed under the law.

What Questions Can Employers Ask in Interviews?

Employers are allowed to ask some questions about salary expectations under the law. For instance, questions such as these may be generally allowed:

  • “How much would you like to be paid for this job?”
  • “The wage for this job is $X per hour. Would you accept that wage?”
  • “Tell us about competing offers you have received.”

In addition:

  • Questions about your productivity, skills, profits earned, education level and other factors that can determine salary are allowed.
  • Employers are allowed to ask about your salary expectations on a job application form.
  • Employers are not allowed to ask about salary history in applications, even if they also include instructions not to fill it in for positions subject to the Wage Equity Ordinance.

Employers who try to find out your prior salary history by means other than asking you—such as asking your former employer—may be in violation of the law. 

Did a Prospective Employer Ask About Your Salary History? Talk to an Employment Lawyer

If a prospective employer asked you about your salary history while you were interviewing for a job located in Philadelphia, they may be in violation of the law.

A knowledgeable Philadelphia employment attorney can help. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today. 

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.