Philadelphia Salary History Inquiry Ban is Constitutional

In a decision that could have national implications for the wage-equity movement, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Philadelphia may enforce its law prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history.

The decision upheld the constitutionality of the Philadelphia law under the First Amendment. The Court held that the law infringed, to some extent, on the free speech rights of employers, but it did not violate the First Amendment because it was narrowly tailored to address a substantial government interest.

Proponents of the law, which include the city and women’s advocates, say it would cut down on gender- and race-based discrimination that contributes to the wage gap by keeping unfair salaries from snowballing through an employee’s career. Studies suggest women on average make about 80 cents for every dollar a man does. That gap is even higher for women of color.

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