A challenge to an ordinance barring Philadelphia employers from asking job applicants to disclose their salary history raises potential constitutional questions, Professor Chapin Cimino said in an article in the Philly Voice on Jan. 12.
Legislation unanimously approved by Philadelphia City Council that aims to prevent discrimination in hiring faces a challenge from Comcast and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the article said. The challengers, seeking to discourage Mayor Jim Kenney from signing the legislation, contend it would violate employers’ First Amendment free speech rights.
Cimino, an authority on the First Amendment, said the challenge raises troubling questions anew about the expansion of corporate protections, as initiated through the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling.
"Citizens United really made manifest a movement that was started — really hatched — by legal academics and has made its way into actual litigation strategy, specifically among economic libertarians and conservatives," Cimino said. "One of the ideas that has come out of this is that corporations have all these speech rights. It's become a corporate rights movement aimed at the First Amendment, which was never intended to be an instrument of deregulation."
Opposition to the measure could face long odds in the courts, Cimino said.
“They are taking what is a real civil rights issue, income disparity, and waving the flag of the First Amendment,” she said.