Workers’ Rights Advocates found a protector in early 2017. That was when Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill that prohibits employers from asking job candidates to disclose their salary histories. Even so, the Chamber of Commerce took the matter to court and declared that the new law was unconstitutional.
The purpose of the law was to close the gap between the amount of money that men earned and the amount that women earned. Lawmakers hoped to do this by preventing employers from searching for salary histories of job candidates without asking their permission first. According to the law, they must not openly ask candidates about their previous salaries, and they are not allowed to make salary disclosure a condition before employment will be offered. Furthermore, if a candidate refuses to offer this information, employers may not retaliate against that person.
It is expected that many more people will be affected by this law than just those operating businesses inside of Philadelphia. If a company violates the law, it could be fined $2,000 each time it occurs.
Before the law passed, it was the subject of intense opposition. For example, officials with Comcast Communications suggested that this law would violate their First Amendment rights and that they may file a lawsuit. Comcast is not the only company to complain. Several others have let their displeasure with this law be known as well.
On April 6 of this year, the Chamber of Commerce sought a preliminary injunction approximately two months before the law would go into effect. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania court declined to allow the law to be put into effect because of the Chamber of Commerce’s filing. As a result, some people thought that employees’ rights were going to take a back seat to employers’ rights from now on. The law has been suspended indefinitely, and proponents for the law saw this as a very bad sign. However, the proponents’ fortunes looked brighter in June when the city moved to dismiss the lawsuit because the Chamber of Commerce failed to demonstrate how the law would hurt businesses.
The ruling made sense at the time because the government needed the names of businesses that would be adversely affected by the law in order to respond to the legal action. A list of names might have led the court to modify the law, but there is no way to know. It also looked as if the city was willing to hear the opposition’s arguments by preventing the law from going into effect right away.
No one can say whether or not this law will continue to suffer setbacks in the future, but the court has given the Chamber permission to revise its complaint.
Submitting a new filing could create more difficulties for the Chamber. The Chamber would be required to name any company that asks potential employees to inform them of their salary histories, and revealing this information may not be in the any company’s best interests.
The Chamber may decline to modify its complaint, and some employers could decide not to follow the law. For example, a company could find out how much a candidate paid for his or her house online. With that information, the company could estimate the candidate’s salary. Human Resources could also search the internet for salary information on job listing websites. However, anyone who engages in these practices would be susceptible to being penalized for these actions.
Everyone is not fighting the new legislation. Some employers want to help close the gender gap and are supporting the wage-equality principles enshrined in the law. The question for these employers is how to implement the new practices that the law requires.
From this moment on, employers will be examining how they hire new employees. Some things that they could start to do include changing the manner in which they interview people, writing new job applications and changing their training practices.
The trend of forbidding employers to ask for salary history seems to be growing. Several states are weighing the issue now and may enact similar legislation in the future for the purpose of closing the pay gap. Employers who believe that it is in their best interests to be ahead of this issue, may find it advantageous to seek the services of a compliance specialist, and an excellent choice would be Karl Heideck.
The Soda Tax
Another issue that Karl has taken an interest in is Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages. People have been referring to this tax as a “soda tax,” but the tax is actually applied to any beverage that contains sugar or an artificial sweetener.
Apparently, legislators levied this tax out of the goodness of their hearts. The money that will be raised because of it will be used to monetarily support pre-schools, the community’s schools, parks and community centers. The tax is also meant to be a catalyst toward healthier drinking choices. The current rise in obesity rates, diabetes and other ailments has led some people to believe that the tax is a necessary step in the right direction.
The law also has opponents who claim that businesses are losing revenue because of decreased beverage sales. It also punishes consumers who are being taxed for the beverage and taxed again for the added sweetener. It has even put people’s jobs in jeopardy. With less consumption of sweetened drinks, drivers and beverage bottlers are losing their livelihoods.
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About Karl Heideck
Karl Heideck graduated from Swarthmore College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature/Letters. He studied law at James E. Beasley School of Law and graduated with honors with a Juris Doctor in 2009. Heideck became a licensed attorney in 2010 and has been practicing ever since.
Along with his other areas of practice, Karl Heideck also has gained experience in legal writing, employment law, legal research, commercial litigation, civil litigation, mediation, intellectual property law, product liability and corporate law. He is currently available for compliance consulting, but he is also an attorney who represents private citizens and companies in the Philadelphia area.