On July 31, 2019, Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a measure prohibiting employers from asking job applicants or their previous employees about salary history.
This law amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 and will take effect on September 29, 2019. Illinois joins other states that have taken similar measures to address pay disparities. Once effective, Illinois employers will be prohibited from:
- Screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages or salary history, which includes benefits;
- Requiring that the wage or salary history of an applicant satisfy minimum or maximum criteria;
- Requesting or requiring wage or salary history from an applicant as a condition of being interviewed, considered for a job, or hired; and
- Requesting an applicant’s wage or salary history from a current or prior employer.
However, the new law does not prohibit a job applicant from voluntarily disclosing their prior wage or salary history, so long as an employer does not consider this information when determining whether to make a job offer or the applicant’s compensation package. Employers are also not prohibited from discussing salary expectations or providing salary information regarding a position.
In addition to prohibiting employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s salary history, the new law also affords employees the right to discuss their wages and benefits with others. This means employers may no longer require employees to sign agreements prohibiting them from discussing their salaries or benefits with other employees.
If an employer violates the law, an employee may bring a civil action and seek to recover damages, including special damages, up to $10,000, compensatory damages, injunctive relief, costs and attorney’s fees. Employers are also subject to civil penalties that range from $500 for the first to offense to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.
Employers with employees in Illinois should take measures to ensure they are in compliance with the new law. Employers should review their job applications, employment agreements, policies and handbooks. Employers should also educate all human resources personnel, recruiters and other personnel involved in hiring decisions. Because of the significant damages associated with violations of the new law, we recommend employers consult with legal counsel before making these changes and implementing new policies.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute formal, legal advice. If you have any questions regarding the information contained in this article, please consult with Danielle McKinley at (312) 251-2292 or any attorney at RM Partners Law LLC for advice about your particular circumstance.