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Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 30, 2018

THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR GREATER PHILADELPHIA, individually and on behalf of its members, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA and PHILADELPHIA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Goldberg, J.

         Responding to the problem of wage inequality for women and minorities, the City of Philadelphia has enacted an ordinance amending Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code to include provisions on wage equity. The ordinance has two parts. First, it prohibits an employer from inquiring about a prospective employee's wage history (“the Inquiry Provision”); and second, it makes it illegal for an employer to rely on wage history “at any stage in the employment process” to determine a salary for an employee (“the Reliance Provision”). The basic premise of the law's prohibitions is that allowing employers to formulate job offers based on prior salaries that are historically lower for women and minorities perpetuates the wage inequity problem.

         Plaintiff, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (“the Chamber”), [1] on behalf of itself and several of its members including Comcast Corporation, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Bittender Construction, seeks a preliminary injunction, arguing that both the Inquiry and Reliance Provisions violate the First Amendment's free speech clause.

         While the City of Philadelphia's efforts in passing the ordinance are certainly laudable, I conclude that the Inquiry Provision violates the First Amendment's free speech clause. Consequently the Chamber's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction as to that portion of the Ordinance will be granted. Because I conclude that the Reliance Provision does not implicate speech, and thus the First Amendment, the Chamber's Motion as to that portion of the ordinance will be denied.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]

         As of 2015, women in Pennsylvania earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and African American women earn 68 cents for every dollar a man earns. Phila. Code. § 9-1131(1)(a) (citing United States Census Bureau Report 2015). As I note throughout this Opinion, the existence of this wage gap is not disputed.

         The City of Philadelphia has endeavored to diminish the wage gap in Philadelphia through amendment of Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code to include provisions on wage equity (“the Ordinance”).[3] The relevant portions of the Ordinance are codified at Philadelphia Code § 9-1131 and state:

§ 9-1131. Wage Equity.
. . . .
(2) Prohibition on Inquiries into Wage History.
(a) It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof:
(i) To inquire about a prospective employee's wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview or employment on disclosure of wage history, or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry or for otherwise opposing any act made unlawful by this Chapter.
(ii) To rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer of the individual in determining the wages for such individual at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract, unless such applicant knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof.
(b) This subsection (2) shall not apply to any actions taken by an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof, pursuant to any federal, state or local law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage history for employment purposes.
(c) For purposes of this Section 9-1131, “to inquire” shall mean to ask a job applicant in writing or otherwise, and “wages” shall mean all earnings of an employee, regardless of whether determined on time, task, piece, commission or other method of calculation and including fringe benefits, wage supplements, or other compensation whether payable by the employer from employer funds or from amounts withheld from the employee's pay by the employer.

Id. § 9-1131(2).

         Employers who violate the Ordinance are subject to civil and criminal penalties, including compensatory damages, up to $2, 000 in punitive damages per violation, and an additional $2, 000 and 90 days' incarceration for a repeat offense. Id. §§ 9-1105(1)(c)-(d), 9-1121(2).

         Introduced in September 2016, the Ordinance was the subject of a hearing before Philadelphia City Council's Committee on Law and Government on November 22, 2016. After the Committee reported the bill favorably, it was unanimously passed on December 8, 2016. The Ordinance was signed into law by the Mayor of Philadelphia on January 23, 2017 and was scheduled to take effect on May 23, 2017.[4] The Ordinance relies on the following findings:

(a) In Pennsylvania, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to a United States Census Bureau 2015 report. Women of color are paid even less. African American women are paid only 68 cents to the dollar paid to a man, Latinas are paid only 56 cents to the dollar paid to men, and Asian women are paid 81 cents to the dollar paid to men.
(b) The gender wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the United States since 1963, when the Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, the first law aimed at prohibiting gender-based pay discrimination, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.
(c) In August of 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to enact a law prohibiting employers from seeking or requiring a prospective employee's wage history.
(d) Since women are paid on average lower wages than men, basing wages upon a worker's wage at a previous job only serves to perpetuate gender wage inequalities and leave families with less money to spend on food, housing, and other essential goods and services.

Id. § 9-1131(1). Finding (d)-that setting salaries based on previous employment wages perpetuates gender wage inequalities-is the central issue in this case.[5]

         On April 6, 2017, the Chamber, filed a Complaint and a motion for a preliminary injunction against the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (“the PCHR”) (collectively, “the City”), primarily averring that the Ordinance violates the First Amendment rights of employers. I dismissed the Chamber's original Complaint for lack of standing on May 1, 2017, allowing the Chamber to file an amended complaint. On June 13, 2017, the Chamber filed the Amended Complaint and refiled its Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (“Motion”). Following extensive briefing, I held oral argument on the Motion on February 1, 2018.[6]

         LEGAL STANDARD - PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIONS IN FIRST AMENDMENT CASES

         A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy. Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 800 (3d Cir. 1989). As such, the granting of preliminary injunctive relief is restricted to limited circumstances. Id. In order to obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish four elements:

(1) the likelihood that the plaintiff will prevail on the merits at final hearing;
(2) the extent to which the plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by the conduct complained of; (3) the extent to which the defendant will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is issued; and (4) the public interest.

A.T.&T. Co. v. Winback & Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1427 (3d Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Merch. & Evans, Inc. v. Roosevelt Bldg. Prods., 963 F.2d 628, 632-33 (3d Cir. 1992)). A party moving for a preliminary injunction must initially “meet the threshold for the first two . . . factors, ” and only if these “gateway factors” are met, should the district court then consider the remaining two factors. Reilly v. City of Harrisburg, 858 F.3d 173, 178 (3d Cir. 2017), as amended (June 26, 2017). The court must then determine “in its sound discretion if all four factors, taken together, balance in favor of granting the requested preliminary relief.” Id. at 179.

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently clarified the standard for a preliminary injunction in First Amendment cases in Reilly v. City of Harrisburg, 858 F.3d 173 (3d Cir. 2017), as amended (June 26, 2017). Typically, to obtain a preliminarily injunction, the plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating a likelihood of success on the merits. The Third Circuit explained in Reilly that in First Amendment cases, the government bears the burden of proof as to the constitutionality of a law, thus the plaintiff “must be deemed likely to prevail” unless the government demonstrates the constitutionality of the law. Id. at 180 (quoting Ashcroft v. ACLU, 542 U.S. 656, 666 (2004)). This is because “‘the burdens at the preliminary injunction stage track the burdens at trial, '” and for First Amendment purposes the burden of demonstrating the constitutionality of a law rests with the government. Id. (quoting Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418, 429 (2006)).

         In light of the above, the analysis in First Amendment cases proceeds as follows. The initial burden of proving that a law restricts protected speech lies with the challenger. Id. at 180 n.5. The burden then shifts to the government to demonstrate the constitutionality of the challenged restriction under the appropriate level of scrutiny. Id. If the government is successful in demonstrating constitutionality, “then the motion for a preliminary injunction fails because there is no likelihood of success on the merits.” Id. If the government cannot establish that the law is constitutional, the challenger must still demonstrate irreparable harm. Id.

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         The Chamber argues that both the Inquiry and Reliance Provisions of the Ordinance violate the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Constitution. Because the Ordinance essentially has two parts, I will analyze each in turn.

         I. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

         A. The Inquiry Provision

         The parties agree that the Inquiry Provision targets speech, and indeed it does-it forbids employers from asking questions on a specific topic. The question is whether the Inquiry Provision violates the First Amendment. As noted above, the burden for proving the constitutionality of the Inquiry Provision rests with the City. The parties disagree as to what type of speech the provision regulates and thus what level of scrutiny should be applied in determining the constitutionality of the provision. They also disagree as to the result when scrutiny is applied.

         1. What Type of Speech Does the Inquiry Provision Regulate?

         The City urges that wage history inquiries are related to the economic interest of the speaker and thus constitute commercial speech. The Chamber responds that the speech at issue is not commercial speech.

         In the seminal case of Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of N.Y., 447 U.S. 557 (1980), the United States Supreme Court defined commercial speech as “expression related solely to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience.” Id. at 561. Since then, the Court has stated that “core” commercial speech is “‘speech which does no more than propose a commercial transaction.'” Bolger v. Youngs Drug Prods. Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 66 (1983) (quoting Va. State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Va. Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 762 (1976)) (finding that informational pamphlets containing contraceptive advertisements constituted commercial speech).

         In U.S. Healthcare, Inc. v. Blue Cross of Greater Phila., 898 F.2d 914 (3d Cir. 1990), the Third Circuit noted that “[c]ommercial speech may be broadly defined as expression related to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience, generally in the form of a commercial advertisement for the sale of goods and services.” Id. at 933. The Third Circuit has identified three questions courts should consider in determining whether speech is commercial: (1) “is the speech an advertisement”; (2) “does the speech refer to a specific product or service”; and (3) “does the speaker have an economic motivation for the speech.” Id. (citing Bolger, 463 U.S. at 66-67). The Third Circuit observed in U.S. Healthcare that “[a]n affirmative answer to all three ‘provides strong support for the conclusion that the speech is commercial.'” Id. (quoting Bolger, 463 U.S. at 67). This inquiry “rests heavily on ‘the common sense distinction between speech proposing a commercial transaction . . . and other varieties of speech.'” Id. (quoting Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 471 U.S. 626, 637 (1985)).

         Courts have interpreted the definition of commercial speech to include a broad range of commercial-related expression. See, e.g., Valle Del Sol Inc. v. Whiting, 709 F.3d 808, 818-19 (9th Cir. 2013) (finding a provision making it unlawful for an occupant of a car to solicit or hire a day laborer if the car blocks traffic implicated the day laborers' commercial speech because “the primary purpose of the communication is to advertise a laborer's availability for work and to negotiate terms of such work”); Campbell v. Robb, 162 Fed.Appx. 460, 469-70 (6th Cir. 2006) (finding a statement made by a landlord to a prospective tenant describing conditions of a rental was “part and parcel to a rental transaction” and thus constituted “core” commercial speech); Hyman v. City of Louisville, 132 F.Supp.2d 528, 541-42 (W.D. Ky. 2001) (finding a doctor's advertisements were proposals of possible employment and thus constituted commercial speech), vacated on other grounds, 53 Fed.Appx. 740 (6th Cir. 2002); Nomi v. Regents for Univ. of Minn., 796 F.Supp. 412, 417 (D. Minn. 1992), (finding that military recruitment “proposes a commercial transaction [with] the purpose of . . . reach[ing] an agreement under which services will be exchanged for compensation, ” and thus constituted commercial speech), vacated on other grounds, 5 F.3d 332 (8th Cir. 1993).

         Here, the Inquiry Provision prohibits Philadelphia-based employers from asking potential hires about their previous wage history. This inquiry occurs in the context of a job application or job interview, both of which propose a commercial transaction, with the “purpose of . . . reach[ing] an agreement under which services will be exchanged for compensation.” Nomi, 796 F.Supp. at 417. Similar to the day laborer provision in Valle Del Sol, the Inquiry Provision relates to attempts to hire and hiring, and thus “all affected speech is either speech soliciting a commercial transaction or speech necessary to the consummation of a commercial transaction.” 709 F.3d at 818. While a wage history inquiry may not fit as neatly into the commercial speech category as the advertisement for contraceptives in Bolger, it is akin because a wage history inquiry occurs in the context of negotiating a job. Based upon this precedent, and the activity affected by the Ordinance, I conclude that the Inquiry Provision regulates wage history inquiries, which constitute commercial speech.

         2. What Level of Scrutiny Applies?

         The City submits that laws regulating commercial speech are subject to intermediate scrutiny under Central Hudson. Citing to the Supreme Court's decisions in Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc., 564 U.S. 552 (2011) and Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015), the Chamber responds that even if the targeted speech is commercial, strict scrutiny, and not Central Hudson's intermediate scrutiny, applies because the Inquiry Provision is content and speaker based.

         The Supreme Court announced in Central Hudson that commercial speech receives reduced protection because it transpires in an area traditionally subject to government regulation. 447 U.S. at 562-63; see also King v. Governor of the State of N.J., 767 F.3d 216, 234 (3d Cir. 2014). Commercial speech is “linked inextricably with the commercial arrangement it proposes, ” and thus “‘the State's interest in regulating the underlying transaction may give it a concomitant interest in the expression itself.'” King, 767 F.3d at 234 (quoting Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U.S. 761, 767 (1993)). The type of scrutiny applied to commercial speech has been labeled “intermediate scrutiny.” See id. at 234 (quoting Fla. Bar v. Went for It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618, 623-24 (1995)).

         Whether the Supreme Court upended the Central Hudson intermediate scrutiny test in Sorrell and Reed for content-based or speaker-based commercial speech regulations is not abundantly clear. Reed does not address commercial speech. Sorrell references a “heightened scrutiny, ” but it is just as likely that this is the same as intermediate scrutiny, which is stricter than rational basis scrutiny. See Retail Digital Network, LLC v. Prieto, 861 F.3d 839, 847 (9th Cir. 2017) (“There is nothing novel in Sorrell's use of the term ‘heightened scrutiny' to distinguish from rational basis review.”).

         Moreover, since Sorrell and Reed, circuit courts confronted with content- and speaker-based restrictions on commercial speech have continued to apply Central Hudson's intermediate scrutiny rather than strict scrutiny. See, e.g., Retail Digital Network, 861 F.3d at 846 (“Sorrell did not mark a fundamental departure from Central Hudson's four-factor test, and Central Hudson continues to apply.”); 1-800-411-Pain Referral Serv., LLC v. Otto, 744 F.3d 1045, 1055 (8th Cir. 2014) (“The upshot is that when a court determines commercial speech restrictions are content- or speaker-based, it should then assess their constitutionality under Central Hudson.”); Educ. Media Co. at Va. Tech, Inc. v. Insley, 731 F.3d 291, 298 (4th Cir. 2013) (declining to determine whether strict scrutiny applied because the challenged regulation failed Central Hudson's intermediate scrutiny); United States v. Caronia, 703 F.3d 149, 165-69 (2d Cir. 2012) (applying Central Hudson to a content- and speaker-based regulation); see also King v. Gen. Info. Servs., Inc., 903 F.Supp.2d 303, 308 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (observing that in Sorrell, “the Supreme Court stopped far short of overhauling nearly three decades of precedent, which is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the opinion characterizes commercial speech precedence, including Central Hudson itself, for support”).

         Other circuit courts have either highlighted a lack of clarity around the commercial speech doctrine post-Sorrell, see, e.g., Ocheesee Creamery LLC v. Putnam, 851 F.3d 1228, 1235 n.7 (11th Cir. 2017), or addressed it in the context of other types of speech. See, e.g., King, 767 F.3d at 235 (finding that professional speech receives the same protection as commercial speech and relying on Central Hudson for the standard); ACLU of Ill. v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583, 586, 604-08 (7th Cir. 2012) (referencing “several variations of intermediate scrutiny” in various speech contexts and concluding the statute at issue failed to satisfy the elements of any of those standards).

         In light of the lack of clarity surrounding this issue, and because I conclude infra that the Inquiry Provision does not pass muster under the Central Hudson framework, I need not determine whether the Central Hudson test has been broadened for content- or speaker-based restrictions. I will thus apply Central Hudson's intermediate scrutiny to the Inquiry Provision.

         3. Application of Central Hudson to the Inquiry Provision

         The City urges that the Inquiry Provision passes muster under the Central Hudson test. With the exception of the City's interest, which the Chamber concedes is substantial, the Chamber contests the Inquiry Provision's ability to satisfy all steps of the Central Hudson test.

         The framework outlined in Central Hudson for analyzing commercial speech is as follows:

For commercial speech to come within [the First Amendment], it at least must concern lawful activity and not be misleading. Next, we ask whether the asserted governmental interest is substantial. If both inquiries yield positive answers, we must determine whether the regulation directly advances the governmental interest asserted, and whether it is not more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest.

447 U.S. at 566. A regulation that does not pass muster under this test violates the First Amendment.

         The first step, which asks whether the speech concerns unlawful activity or is misleading, is a threshold question. If answered in the affirmative, the analysis ends because commercial speech that concerns unlawful activity or is misleading remains unprotected. See Zauderer, 471 U.S. at 638. Where the speech does not concern unlawful activity and is not innately misleading, the government may regulate the speech only if its restriction satisfies all of the remaining prongs of the Central Hudson test.

         “The last two steps of the Central Hudson analysis basically involve a consideration of the ‘fit' between the legislature's ends and the means chosen to accomplish those ends.” Posadas de Puerto Rico Assocs. v. Tourism Co. of Puerto Rico, 478 U.S. 328, 341 (1986).

         a. Does the Commercial Speech at Issue Concern Unlawful Activity or Is It Misleading?[7]

         The City posits that, “[b]ecause employer wage history queries are ‘commercial speech related to [the] illegal activity' of relying upon wage history, they are unprotected speech under Central Hudson.” The City explains that similar to provisions contained in anti-discrimination laws, the Inquiry Provision prohibits acquiring information that the “main” provision of the Ordinance (the Reliance Provision) prohibits employers from using. The Chamber responds that because the Reliance Provision is unconstitutional, the Inquiry Provision cannot be justified as related to this other unconstitutional speech restriction. The Chamber also contends that even if the Reliance Provision is a constitutional restriction on conduct, wage history inquiries do not pertain to unlawful activity simply because the Reliance Provision makes it illegal to rely on wage history in fashioning a salary. Because I conclude below that the Reliance Provision does not constitute a speech restriction, I will address only the Chamber's second argument.

         The City relies upon Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Comm'n on Human Relations, 413 U.S. 376 (1973), a case that informed the Supreme Court's ruling in Central Hudson. In Pittsburgh Press, the Supreme Court concluded that commercial speech related to illegal activity could be regulated. There, the Court addressed an ordinance that precluded, among other things, (1) discrimination in employment on the basis of a variety of characteristics, including sex; (2) publishing or circulating, or causing to publish or circulate, “any notice or advertisement relating to ‘employment' or membership which indicate[d] any discrimination because of sex”; and (3) aiding “in the doing of any act declared to be an unlawful employment practice by this ordinance.” Id. at 378. The lower court had found Pittsburgh Press in violation of the Ordinance's third provision for carrying “help-wanted” advertisements in sex-designated columns. Id. at 380.

         The Supreme Court agreed that Pittsburgh Press's practice of placing “help-wanted” advertisements for employment in sex-designated columns aided employers in “indicating” illegal sex preferences. Id. at 388. The Court found that this amounted to illegal commercial activity because discrimination in employment was illegal under the ordinance. Id. (“We have no doubt that a newspaper constitutionally could be forbidden to publish a want ad proposing a sale of narcotics or soliciting prostitutes.”). The Court further concluded that the provision prohibiting the aiding of discrimination was a permissible speech restriction because “[a]ny First Amendment interest which might be served by advertising an ordinary commercial proposal and which might arguably outweigh the governmental interest supporting the regulation is altogether absent when the commercial activity itself is illegal and the restriction on advertising is incidental to a valid limitation on economic activity.” Id. at 389. Significantly, the Court observed that the provision making sex discrimination in employment illegal was unchallenged, as was the provision prohibiting employers from publishing or causing to be published any advertisements “indicating” sex discrimination. Id. at 388-89.

         Here, while using wage history to formulate salaries is made illegal pursuant to the Reliance Provision, other uses of wage history are not illegal. For example, acquisition of wage history is allowed in other contexts such as for gathering market information or identifying applicants whom employers can or cannot afford. And, unlike discrimination, the existence of a wage history is not in and of itself illegal. In Pittsburgh Press, the aiding of a discriminatory employment practice necessarily pertained to illegal discriminatory employment practice. Simply because wage history could be relied upon in fashioning a salary in violation of the Reliance Provision does not render all other legal activity related to wage history illegal. See Dunagin v. City of Oxford, 718 F.2d 738, 743 (5th Cir. 1983) (en banc) (“The commercial speech doctrine would disappear if its protection ceased whenever the advertised product might be used illegally.”). Additionally, unlike in Pittsburgh Press where the provision rendering discriminatory employment practices was unchallenged, here, the Reliance Provision is challenged. Pittsburgh Press is therefore distinguishable.

         The City's reliance upon Nat'l Ass'n of Tobacco Outlets, Inc. v. City of Providence, 731 F.3d 71 (1st Cir. 2013), is also unavailing. In that case, one provision of an ordinance prohibited the sale of tobacco products by way of coupons and multi-pack discounts, and a second provision prohibited licensed tobacco retailers from accepting, redeeming, or offering to accept or redeem coupons providing tobacco products for free or at a discounted price. Id. at 74. Applying the first prong of Central Hudson, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found that the second provision of the ordinance regulated illegal activity because the underlying transaction was illegal pursuant to the first provision. Id. at 78. The court explained that the second provision prohibited offering to engage in illegal activity, “that is, sales of tobacco products by way of coupons and multi-pack discounts, which are banned, ” and consequently such offers could be “freely regulated.” Id.

         In contrast, to inquire into wage history is not an offer to engage in otherwise illegal activity, as information gathered through a wage history inquiry could be used for many activities other than relying upon it to determine a salary. The underlying commercial transaction is not illegal like the sale of tobacco products through coupons or multi-pack discounts was in Tobacco Outlets. Rather, the underlying commercial transaction here, hiring employees, is lawful. See also Katt v. Dykhouse, 983 F.2d 690, 697 (6th Cir. 1992) (“The proper inquiry under the first prong of the Central Hudson test is whether the underlying commercial transaction is lawful.”) (emphasis in original).[8]

         Finally, a ruling as the City requests would stand Central Hudson on its head. If the City's position were correct, City Council could pass any law with two provisions, one of which impermissibly regulates commercial speech, so long as the other provision renders one use of the underlying commercial speech unlawful. For all of the forgoing reasons, I find that the Inquiry Provision does not concern unlawful activity nor is it misleading, and will thus proceed to the next step of the Central Hudson test.

         b. Is the City's Interest Substantial?

         The parties agree that the City has a substantial interest in promoting wage equity and reducing discriminatory wage disparities.

         c. Does the Inquiry Provision Directly Advance the City's Asserted Interest?

         The City maintains that the Inquiry Provision satisfies this prong of the analysis, insisting there is sufficient evidence to establish that the wage gap is the result of discrimination and that City Council's decision to prohibit inquiries into wage history will promote wage equality. The City first points to the testimony before City Council of Terry L. Fromson, Managing Attorney for the Women's Law Project, for the proposition that the wage gap begins with a woman's first job and grows over time because raises after an employee is hired are calculated based on current salary. Relying on the testimony of Rue Landau, Executive Director of the PCHR, the City then asserts that based on this initial wage gap, common sense suggests that asking about wage history during the hiring process propagates wage inequality. The City also points to the affidavit of a labor economics expert, Dr. Janice Madden, and an article published quoting Dr. Victoria Budson, Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School, which I address in greater detail below. The City concludes that Council “had more than enough expert opinion and information” to conclude that the Inquiry Provision would advance the asserted interest. (Resp. at 12-15.)

         Citing to Turner Broad, System, Inc., v. F.C.C., 520 U.S. 180 (1987) (“Turner II”), King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, 767 F.3d 216 (3d Cir. 2014), and Florida Bar v. Went for It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618 (1995), the City also urges that City Council's predictive judgment is entitled to deference and that empirical studies demonstrating that the Inquiry Provision will narrow the wage gap are not required. It avers that based on the record before it, Council properly exercised its predictive judgment. The City notes that this is especially true here where no other law regulating wage history inquiries is yet in effect and therefore evidence detailing what happens when wage history is withheld does not yet exist. (Resp. at 15-16; Reply at 8-9.)

         In response, the Chamber relies upon Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U.S. 761 (1993), Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Fla., 848 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2017), Rubin v. Coors Brewing Co., 514 U.S. 476 (1995), and Pitt News v. Pappert, 379 F.3d 96 (3d Cir. 2004), all discussed infra, to illustrate that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the harm is real and that the Ordinance will alleviate the alleged harm. The Chamber urges that the City relies upon “[m]ere speculation and conjecture” and fails to provide “at least some concrete evidence” that the Inquiry Provision will alleviate the asserted harms. According to the Chamber, there was no evidence before City Council about how often employers rely on wage history in setting salaries or to what extent that practice perpetuates the wage gap, nor was there any empirical or anecdotal evidence to demonstrate that employers rely on wage history to reduce a salary below what they would otherwise offer. Given these deficiencies, the Chamber concludes that no evidence supports City Council's finding that reliance on wage history perpetuates discriminatory gender wage inequalities, nor does any evidence eliminate the real possibility that pay disparities are caused by other factors. (Mot. at 15-16.)

         To meet its burden of showing that a law “directly advances” a substantial interest, the City must establish that “the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree.” Edenfield, 507 U.S. at 770-71; see also Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. F.C.C., 512 U.S. 622, 664 (1994) (“Turner I”) (“When the Government defends a regulation on speech as a means to redress past harms or prevent anticipated harms, it must do more than simply ‘posit the existence of the disease sought to be cured.'”) (quoting Quincy Cable TV, Inc. v. FCC, 768 F.2d 1434, 1455 (D.C. Cir. 1985)); King, 767 F.3d at 238 (explaining that the government “must show the harms are ‘real, not merely conjectural, and that the regulation will in fact alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.'”) (quoting Turner I, 512 U.S. at 664).

         In conducting this analysis, the court “do[es] not review a legislature's empirical judgment de novo, ” but instead “determines whether the legislature has ‘drawn reasonable inferences based on substantial evidence.'” King, 767 F.3d at 238 (quoting Turner II, 520 U.S. at 195). “‘[T]he quantum of empirical evidence'” necessary to satisfy intermediate scrutiny “‘will vary up or down with the novelty and plausibility of the justification raised.'” Id. (citing Nixon v. Shrink Mo. Gov't PAC, 528 U.S. 377, 391 (2000)).

         I have carefully reviewed the record before City Council, which consists of testimony from six professionals in Philadelphia as well as anecdotes of two women who have been asked about their wage history during the job application process. In summary, the record is comprised of the following:

- Rue Landau, Executive Director of the PCHR, stated that according to a 2015 United States Census report, women in Pennsylvania earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. She described the effect of the 2007-2009 recession on this gap. Ms. Landau concluded that “[i]t stands to reason that the practice of asking an applicant's wage history during the hiring process can perpetuate wage inequality, low wages, and poverty, ” and ...

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