Governor JB Pritzker has signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act that bans employers and employment agencies from asking about applicants’ past wage and compensation histories or using such information to screen candidates for a job. The new law takes effect on September 29, 2019. The idea behind the new prohibition is to help break a cycle where predominantly female and minority workers have received lower pay for performing the same or similar work as male and non-minority workers. Employers are more likely to perpetuate this situation if they base the new employees’ pay on what they had previously earned.
Employers can be penalized for asking the applicant or the applicant’s current or former employers for wage or salary history. The prohibition does not apply if a job applicant’s salary history is a matter of public record or if the applicant is a current employee applying with the same employer. If an applicant voluntarily provides wage or salary history, the employer has not violated the law and would not be penalized. This information, however, is not to be used to make a hiring decision or to determine the applicant’s salary. Likewise, the new law does not prohibit an employer from asking an applicant what they desire to make at the new position. Department of Labor staff also are available to answer questions from both employers and employees on the new law and can be reached on DOL’s Equal Pay Act Hotline: 866-372-4365.