Wage inequity bill mired in legal challenge

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Jennie Wright is an attorney who says she felt discriminated when asked her former salary (Tom MacDonald

Jennie Wright is an attorney who says she felt uncomfortable when asked her former salary. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Women are calling Tuesday “Pay Inequity Day” because of opposition to a law that would prevent Philadelphia employers from asking for salary history from job applicants.

Councilman William Greenlee wrote the legislation that would prohibit employers from asking for the salary history from job applicants.  It was supposed to be in effect by now, but business owners have challenged it in court.  

Jennie Wright, an attorney, said she felt uncomfortable when asked her former salary. As a new mother, she had worked part time.

“I felt I would be penalized for a decision I made after my second child was born so I could provide child care, and my salary reflected that,” she said.

Amal Bass of the Women’s Law Project said the status quo helps keep pay inequality in place.

“Employer reliance on a job applicant’s wage history perpetuates wage inequalities based on gender and race.  A large wage gap exists between men and women in Pennsylvania — including in Philadelphia,” Bass said.  “In Pennsylvania, women make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men — and the gap is even wider for women of color.”

The law is on hold while the court case proceeds.

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