Comcast Threatens to Sue If City Enacts Wage Discrimination Bill

The bill, which has already passed in Council, is aimed at achieving fairer salaries for women and minorities.

Comcast

L: SweetBabeeJay/iStockphoto.com | Right: Mayor Jim Kenney

Comcast has threatened to sue Philadelphia if Mayor Jim Kenney signs a bill passed unanimously by City Council last month that would forbid employers from asking job applicants for their previous salaries, the Inquirer reports. 

The bill, which was introduced by City Councilman Bill Greenlee, is aimed at ensuring fair salaries for employees — particularly women and minorities — on the basis that a salary should be determined on an applicant’s experience and skills, not how much the applicant has been paid in previous positions.

Miguel Estrada, an attorney retained by Comcast, wrote a 25-page legal memo to the city claiming that the law would violate the First Amendment, according to the Inquirer. In the letter, Estrada says that a successful lawsuit against the city could “make the City liable for a substantial award of attorney’s fees,” though, he writes, “Comcast and others in the business community who are considering a legal challenge do not want to appear confrontational in any way.”

Comcast senior executive vice president David L. Cohen told the Inquirer that the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce played a role in preparing the memo, which also alleges that the bill would enact a bureaucratic hassle that would discourage businesses from entering the city.

The legislation is the first of its kind passed by a city in the U.S. Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, said Kenney still supports the bill but has asked the city’s law department to review the legislation.

Greenlee told the Inquirer that he will not withdraw or amend the bill.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

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