Mayor Kenney to Sign Pay Equity Bill

Philadelphia will become the first city to bar employers from asking applicants about wage history.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Mayor Kenney’s support for the pay equity bill hasn’t wavered over the last week. He’s expected to sign the bill into law on Monday, the Inquirer reports.

Kenney made it clear that he will not veto the bill, which will ban employers from asking job candidates what they earned in the past. And he’s made it clear that he’ll sign the bill in the face of opposition. Comcast threatened to lob a lawsuit at the city over First Amendment claims, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce has argued that the bill would create a bureaucratic hassle for businesses that rely on wage history to make decisions about job candidates.

“We just wanted to make sure that all the legal aspects of it were tight before we signed it,” Kenney said. “We may get sued, we may not. But Council passed this measure by a unanimous vote, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t sign it.”

Philadelphia will become the first city in the country to bar employers from asking job applicants about their wage history. Introduced by Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee, the bill states that women are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 report, with women of color being paid even less. Black women are paid only 68 cents to the dollar paid to a man, Latinas 56 cents, and Asian women 81 cents, according to the bill.

Experts have argued that even though there is no empirical evidence to suggest the bill would narrow the wage gap, it is still a step in the right direction because eliminating wage history will most likely move employers to make decisions based on the candidate’s skills and the market. Others argue that the legislation will actually hurt women because employers will pay new employees according to assumptions about how much a woman made in the past.

City Council says it modeled the pay equity bill after similar legislation in Massachusetts, which in August 2016 became the first state to enact a law prohibiting employers from requiring a prospective employee’s wage history. The Philadelphia ordinance goes farther than the Massachusetts legislation, some have noted.

The Philadelphia bill will take effect 120 days after Mayor Kenney signs it, which means it will take effect before the Massachusetts legislation becomes effective on January 1, 2018.

Will Mayor Kenney’s signature usher in a new age of hostility between the city and the business community? We’ll have to wait and see.

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