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Equal Income for Men and Women in Philadelphia

— January 25, 2017

Philadelphia Major Jim Kenney signed a bill making it illegal for employers to require past information related to income.

Sometimes we lose our jobs due to unforeseen circumstances, and we find ourselves scrambling for a new opportunity, any opportunity to make ends meet.  We take any job, regardless of compensation, multiple jobs if needed, to stay afloat.  Or, we have what we consider a “side job”.  The job brings in an income, but it’s not our “dream job”.  We work toward our dream while working at this establishment, because, after all, we need to continue funding our dream.  Life happens.  It’s complicated.  And, nothing is more painful than sitting through an interview feeling as if one needs to justify a low-paying position he or she feels forced into keeping.  This is especially true if one feels the pay is a reflection of a discriminating factor, such as race or gender.  How is this explained to a potential employer without appearing overly sensitive?

Image Courtesy of PNG All
Image Courtesy of PNG All

It can be embarrassing and feels downright intrusive for companies to inquire about pay.  We find ourselves caught in the middle of an awkward conversation that can paralyze the rest of the hiring process.  Why do potential employers insist on inquiring about our past salaries?  Does it truly matter?  Shouldn’t our paycheck be a reflection of both what the firm is able to provide and what we will bring to the table?  Who cares if I’m waiting tables at minimum wage!  If I have a four-year degree and I’m sitting in front of you, interviewing for a position that pays $30K annually, pay me $30K.  Who cares if I’m female!  I’m still just as qualified as John Doe for this opportunity.

Philadelphia Major Jim Kenney just might have an answer.  On Monday, January 23rd, he signed a bill making it illegal for employers to require past information related to income, a decision that will likely save many from an extremely awkward dialogue.  Philadelphia is the first U.S. city to pass the ban, which serves primarily to decrease the income gap between males and females.  This means that employers cannot, whether consciously or otherwise, discriminate against a female applicant, who on average, currently makes only make 83% the salary her male counterpart for the same role.  The income gap between men and women has been a hot topic in recent years, with a focus on eliminating any pay discrepancies, and other eastern states, such as New York and New Jersey, are considering following suit.  

Image Courtesy of US News & World Report
Image Courtesy of US News & World Report

Employees can still willingly submit an income summary when applying for jobs, but the law prohibits a potential employer from requiring this.  The submission will need to be voluntary, as is asking for one’s gender.  If an employer is found guilty of violating the ordinance, the company will be subject to a $2000 fine.  This is a hefty price to pay.  

Companies are already coming forward insisting the law violates certain rights and hoping to challenge the law, which was passed by the Philadelphia City Council unanimously prior to receiving Kenney’s signature, and there is some concern that it will limit new business in the city.  Any negative effects have yet to be seen.


Philadelphia mayor signs bill banning salary history inquiries by employers

Philadelphia Is About to Ban Employers From Asking Potential Hires About Their Salary History

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