Illinois Amends its Equal Pay Act, Banning Employers from Asking About Salary History-What Employers Need to Know
February 11, 2020 - News
Last summer, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law amending the Equal Pay Act of 2003 which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages based on sex or race. This new law prohibits Illinois employers from screening, considering or offering employment to an applicant, conditioned on requesting (or requiring) the applicant’s current or prior salary history (including benefits or other compensation). Employers are similarly prohibited from asking a job applicant’s previous employers about salary history, and employers must disregard information regarding salary history offered voluntarily by an applicant or employee.
In addition, the new law prohibits Illinois employers from interfering with an employee’s right to discuss wages and benefits with others; making it unlawful for employers to require employees to sign a contract or other waiver prohibiting such discussions.
Employees who establish an employer violated the Act can bring a civil action within five years to recover damages, up to $10,000, and seek injunctive relief. The employee may also be able to recover attorney’s fees. Employers who violate the law are also subject to penalties of up to $5,000 “for each violation for each employee affected.”
While the new law does not preclude employers from providing information regarding wages, benefits, compensation or salary relative to the position or from asking an applicant about his/her expectations regarding compensation, employers should promptly:
- review application forms and remove any request for wage or salary information;
- review and revise interview policies, practices or processes to avoid requests for wage or salary information, and to address voluntary disclosures of such information by an applicant or employee;
- ensure recruiters are aware of the employer’s commitment to the Equal Pay Act and require compliance with, and adherence to, the employer’s policies and procedures by any person or company acting on behalf of the employer; and
- review all policies, handbooks and agreements limiting the employer’s disclosure of salary and wages, including confidentiality or restrictive covenants.