Philly mayor stands up to Comcast over employee rights bill

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
Comcast—which is undoubtedly feeling a little more emboldened in the current regulatory climate to push back on bills it doesn’t like—said Philadelphia's wage discrimination bill violates its First Amendment rights.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has shrugged off legal threats from Comcast and signed a bill into law that prohibits local companies from demanding salary histories from workers during the hiring process.

“I know that Comcast and the business community are committed to ending wage discrimination, and I’m hopeful that moving forward we can have a better partnership on this and other issues of concern to business owners and their employees,” Kenney said. “This doesn’t need to be an either/or argument—what is good for the people of Philadelphia is good for business, too.”

RELATED: Comcast threatens Philly mayor over wage-discrimination bill

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According to the Associated Press, Comcast plans to challenge the law in court. The Philadelphia-based cable operator has the backing of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, which believes the law goes too far. 

Earlier this month, Comcast has told Kenney to either veto the recently passed wage-discrimination bill or face a costly legal battle. 

"While my client and others in the business community who are considering a legal challenge do not want to appear confrontational in any way, it is important to note that a successful challenge ... could make the city liable for a substantial award of attorney's fees," attorney Miguel Estrada wrote on behalf of Comcast in a 25-page memo intercepted by the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

The wage-discrimination bill passed on a 16-0 vote by the Philadelphia City Council last month. The legislation would make it illegal for an employer to ask a job applicant about their salary history. Philly legislators said it was modeled after a bill passed in Boston over the summer. 

Comcast—which is undoubtedly feeling a little more emboldened in the current regulatory climate to push back on bills it doesn’t like—said the bill violates its First Amendment rights.

Comcast regulatory and policy chief David L. Cohen told the Inquirer that the company’s memo to Mayor Kenney was crafted with the support of Rob Wonderling, CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Both said it expresses their growing frustrations with increased City Hall regulations being imposed in Philly. 

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