State and local governments are increasingly regulating the workplace. In the first and second quarters of 2020 alone, legislatures were particularly active in passing laws addressing sexual harassment training, discrimination including hair discrimination, criminal background inquiries, salary history, and a variety of unpaid and paid leaves. Although it is not possible to discuss all state and local laws, this update provides an overview of recent and upcoming legislative developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance. (Please note that developments specifically related to COVID-19 are not included in this update.)
In early February 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a Philadelphia ordinance passed years ago could go into effect and that Philadelphia employers will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their salary history in job interviews and related contexts.
Maine and Cincinnati have joined other jurisdictions, such as New York City, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon, that prohibit employers from making salary history inquiries of potential employees in an effort to stop the perpetuation of wage gaps from job to job. The newly enacted legislation for Maine and Cincinnati is discussed in turn below.
Westchester County’s salary history ban, signed on Equal Pay Day in April 2018, took effect on July 9, 2018. The law amends the Westchester County Human Rights Law, and makes it unlawful for an employer, including labor organizations and employment agencies or “agents” thereof, to:
- rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer in determining wages; and
- request or require as a condition of being interviewed, as a condition of being considered for an offer of employment, or as a condition of employment, that a prospective employee disclose wage history information.
As we previously reported, a federal district court in Philadelphia recently struck down the provision of Philadelphia’s salary history ban prohibiting employers from asking about salary history (the “inquiry provision”), but upheld the provision of the law prohibiting employers from relying on such information (the “reliance provision”). The law was initially scheduled to take effect May 23, 2017, but had been stayed by the district court pending resolution of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s challenge to the law. The Judge’s decision ostensibly resolved the litigation at the district court level, however, both the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Philadelphia have appealed the ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Third Circuit has not yet issued an order staying the reliance provision, which the district court upheld. We therefore caution Philadelphia employers to act as though the reliance provision is in full effect, and to refrain from relying on salary history information in determining employees’ compensation. We will continue to report on the appellate process as it unfolds.
On April 30, 2018, a federal district court issued a long-anticipated ruling on Philadelphia’s salary history ban. The ban, scheduled to take effect May 23, 2017, has two parts: (1) the “Inquiry Provision,” precluding employers from inquiring about a prospective hire’s wage history; and (2) the “Reliance Provision,” prohibiting employers from relying on the wage history of a new employee in determining the employee’s pay, unless the employee “knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer.”