Attorney Karl Heideck recently provided some valuable insight on the challenges encountered so far in legislation to prohibit employers in Philadelphia from asking about prospective employees’ past salaries. When this legislation was first announced in January, Philadelphia earned the honorable distinction of being the first municipality in the country to pass a ban on employers inquiring into salary history before they hire a new employee. This law received widespread attention because it was viewed initially as a controversial measure to limit the amount of information that an employer could gather about a potential new hire. Advocates for workers’ rights, however, were major supporters of the law because they thought that it inserted more transparency into the hiring process, especially for traditionally marginalized groups.
Karl Heideck explained that the purpose of the law was to work towards closing the gender pay gap. While men have historically earned more in the same salaried positions as held by women, women are left in the dust when they go to apply for a new job because prospective employers are only willing to pay them a certain percentage more than their previous posting. Men often start new jobs with a history of higher earnings and can more easily demand a higher starting salary. Philadelphia legislators hoped to take a step in the right direction of closing this loophole in the hiring system by passing a law keeping employers from asking about that information in the hiring process. There are stories of some businesses requiring that job applicants reveal their salary histories in order to be considered for employment. In the past, a job applicant’s refusal to talk about their past salaries or give approval for their previous employers to release them was a fatal blow to their hiring prospects.
Although this law may seem to only apply locally to Philadelphia, it may have far-reaching effects. The requirements of the law apply to any business that operates in Philadelphia, even if its headquarters and principal place of business are located elsewhere. Opponents of this legislation say that it only served to add to a growing list of regulations that businesses are forced to follow and would make the business environment less attractive in Philadelphia. Karl Heideck broke down both sides of the argument and mentioned that not all employers in Philadelphia are necessarily opposed to the legislation. Some businesses view this protective measure as a positive development in bringing equality to the workplace.
The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce was one of the most outspoken opponents of the law. It mounted a challenge in court to delay implementation of the law. Karl Heideck followed the case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania very closely as it unfolded. The Chamber of Commerce was chastised by the court because it was not able to identify exactly how businesses in Philadelphia would be harmed by being subject to this new law. Although the court initially delayed the implementation of the law, the Chamber of Commerce was hoping for an indefinite stay or appeal. This now seems highly unlikely because the federal court dismissed the complaint filed by the Chamber of Commerce. Karl Heideck opined that even if the Chamber of Commerce were able to file an amended complaint with greater specificity as to the business interests that would be harmed by this new law, it would likely prove ineffective in getting the legislation ultimately overturned.
This outcome raises serious compliance issues for businesses that operate within the city limits. Karl Heideck pointed out that the hiring departments of these businesses may require legal counsel in order to make sure that they are not asking questions that are impermissible during the hiring process. For example, it would not be following the spirit of the new salary history law for an employer to do its own independent research on the typical salary range for a prospective hire’s previous position. It is outright illegal for them to call the previous employer and ask for an exact salary figure, but independent investigations into salary ranges are a murkier area of the law. Businesses will have to be proactive in consulting with experienced legal counsel to make sure that they do not find themselves in court answering for their illegal hiring practices. This could be a major blow to their public image and ability to attract new employees down the line. It will be important for employees to be educated about their rights during the hiring process so that they know what type of information they are not required to divulge.
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More Information on Karl Heideck
Ever since Karl Heideck graduated from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 2009, he has been at the forefront of all of the most exciting legal developments in the area. He is a frequent author of blog posts and scholarly articles to educate the public and employers about major changes in business law and what they need to do to be in compliance. He now focuses his practice on serving the fine individuals and business of Pennsylvania and is widely recognized for his ability to provide digestible legal advice in a timely fashion.
Karl Heideck is an alum of Swarthmore College and previously worked as an associate at two prominent regional law firms before launching his own practice. He thoroughly enjoys working with his clients to anticipate and solve complex legal problems before they become serious. He is frequently consulted for his advice on risk management issues and is well-versed in all legal compliance aspects relevant to small businesses. More broadly, Karl Heideck is able to handle all aspects of civil litigation. He is an accomplished author in the area of civil litigation and is well known for his practice guides, which fellow attorneys find insightful and inspiring.
Karl Heideck is always willing to help out his legal colleagues and has built a wide network of support among his peers. There is no legal challenge that is too daunting for Karl Heideck to handle. He has more than a decade of experience working in the legal field and has been a primary attorney on a wide range of different cases. Although he does not handle criminal cases, Karl Heideck is able to assist with almost any civil matter that may arise. His colleagues often refer him cases because they are aware that he will go the extra mile to take care of his clients’ best interests.