Comcast threatens Philly mayor over wage-discrimination 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 the Philadelphia bill violates its First Amendment rights.

Comcast has told Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to either veto a 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. 

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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. 

City Councilman Bill Greenlee, who helped draft the bill, told the Inquirer he’s open to hearing Comcast’s concerns … to a point.

"I'm not changing anything," he said. "And I've already told them that."