Starting on September 29th, employers will not be allowed to ask a job applicant about his or her salary history. This is when an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act signed by Governor Pritzker on July 31, 2019, goes into effect.
The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to men and women who perform similar jobs. The amendments that Governor Pritzker signed into law now prohibit employers from doing the following four things:
- Screening job applicants based on their salary history;
- Requiring that an applicant’s prior salary satisfy minimum or maximum criteria;
- Requesting the applicant to disclose his or her previous salaries;
- Seeking an applicant’s salary history from a current or former employer.
The new law does not prohibit a job applicant’s previous employer from providing salary information to the applicant’s prospective employer. Nor does it prohibit an applicant from disclosing his or her previous salaries. If the applicant does this, the employer cannot rely on this information to decide whether to hire the employee or determine the employee’s salary.
Employers who violate the law face serious consequences. The job applicant would likely be able to recover the difference between the amount of money he or she would have received if the employer had not violated the law and the amount the applicant currently receives (calculating this may be difficult). Also, the employer would be required to pay the job applicant’s attorneys’ fees and other costs incurred in the lawsuit. The employer also would be subject to thousands of dollars of fines from the Illinois Department of Labor. The law even imposes punitive damages on employers who violate it.
In light of the severity of these consequences, employers need to make sure their HR departments know not to ask for salary history. Update interview procedures and advise those performing interviews of the changes in the law.