Last Week in the Legislature

Last week, members of the PA House of Representatives voted on proposals to amend the state’s equal pay law, expand liability on small businesses, and prohibit noncompete agreements. Here’s a rundown of some of the action that occurred in the Legislature relevant to employers.

Equal Pay Law Amendments (H.B. 98)

In a party-line vote, the House Labor & Industry Committee voted 14-11 to advance House Bill 98 on Wednesday.

This legislation would make drastic changes to Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay law, adding new vague standards, essentially gutting the exceptions section of the law, and making it nearly impossible for an employer to defend against a legal action brought under this Act. The bill would also restrict the type of questions employers may ask job applicants related to wages, significantly increase penalties, create new causes of action, extend the statute of limitations from two to three years, and allow for uncapped punitive damages.

Federal and state laws already require employers to pay women and men equally for equal work. The law has also always recognized that pay disparities sometimes exist for reasons that have nothing to do with discrimination and therefore provides several exceptions. This legislation would gut these exceptions, putting the burden on employers to demonstrate that discrimination was not a factor and setting an impossibly high bar to do so. The bill also amends the longstanding “equal pay for equal work” standard, seeking to set a far more vague and expansive “equal pay for comparable work.”  This legislation would expose honest, law-abiding employers to lawsuits and severe penalties, which may particularly harm small businesses.

We opposed this legislation (CLICK HERE for our memo), which now heads to the full House for consideration.

Expanding Liability on Small Business (H.R. 2105)

The House Labor & Industry Committee also voted along party lines to advance House Bill 2105 on Wednesday.

This legislation would lower the threshold for an employer to be subject to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act from four to two employees.

Both state and federal anti-discrimination laws have always recognized the unique impact on small businesses; for example, the Federal Civil Rights Act does not apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees and most state laws include a threshold. Small businesses just getting started may be particularly susceptible to unfounded or frivolous claims but lack the resources to defend themselves, as responding to PHRC claims typically requires substantial investments in time and legal costs for extended periods of time (average case age is over 450 days according to PHRC).

This bill also removes exemptions for domestic and farm workers, the latter of which drew opposition from some in the agriculture community.

We opposed this legislation (CLICK HERE for our memo), which now heads to the full House for consideration.

The Committee also passed along party lines House Bill 2104, which would require employers to maintain written policies and procedures related to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and assess financial penalties that the PA Human Relations Commission would apply to training, outreach, and education programs. The PA Chamber has suggested a number of changes to improve this legislation.

Prohibiting Noncompete Agreements (H.B. 1633)

The House Health Committee voted 21-4 to advance House Bill 1633 on Wednesday.

This legislation would prohibit and render void non-compete clauses in health care practitioners’ employment contracts.

The PA Chamber opposes legislation that would inappropriately interfere in private contracts. In this case, hospitals and health systems invest considerably to recruit and provide the infrastructure, operational support, advanced medical equipment, continuing education, training, and patient base for a provider to establish a practice. These employers should not be prohibited from requesting an agreement in which a potential hire commits, for a period of time, to refrain from leaving and starting a competing practice.

We opposed this legislation (CLICK HERE for our memo), which now heads to the full House for consideration.

Artificial Intelligence Disclosure Mandate (H.B. 1598)

The House Consumer Protection, Technology & Utilities Committee voted 21-4 to advance House Bill 1598  on Tuesday.

This legislation would amend the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) to require a disclosure statement when Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to generate any written, visual or audio content.

The PA Chamber opposes the legislation because it creates a broad disclosure requirement that does not differentiate between deceptive content and non-deceptive content and would require widespread use of disclosure statements across the thousands of ways that AI technology is currently used.  It would also expose businesses to frivolous lawsuits.  (CLICK HERE for our memo)

This legislation now heads to the full House for consideration.

Right to Repair

The House Commerce Committee held a hearing last Monday on the possible implementation of right-to-repair legislation.

This legislation would mandate that original manufacturers supply consumers and third-party repairmen with repair manuals, diagnostic tools, and spare parts necessary to repair consumer products, agriculture equipment, and medical supplies.

The PA Chamber submitted testimony to the committee urging members to consider the negative ramifications on manufacturers including safety concerns, increased liability, and the risk associated with providing untrained third parties with proprietary information.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.