Illinois Amends Its Equal Pay Act, Banning Employers from Inquiring About Salary Histories

12 August 2019 Labor & Employment Law Perspectives Blog
Authors: Philip B. Phillips

As part of its effort to tackle the pay gap between men and women, Illinois has joined the national trend of banning questions regarding a job applicant’s salary history.  On July 31, 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new law amending the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 (“the Act”), making it unlawful for employers to ask about a job applicant’s salary history.  The new law goes into effect on September 29, 2019. 

The Act prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to men and women who perform the same or substantially similar jobs, except when the wage difference is based upon a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than an employee’s gender.  With the amendment, the Act now prohibits an employer from (a) screening job applicants based on their salary history, (b) requiring that an applicant's prior salary satisfy minimum or maximum criteria, (c) requesting or requiring as a condition of being interviewed or considered for an offer of employment that an applicant disclose prior salary information, and (d) seeking an applicant’s salary information from a current or former employer. 

The Act, however, does not prohibit an employer from providing salary information regarding a position, or engaging in discussions with an applicant about the applicant’s expectations.  The Act also does not consider an employer to have violated the Act if an applicant voluntarily, without being prompted, discloses his or her salary information, so long as the employer does not consider or rely on the voluntarily disclosed information as a factor in determining whether to offer the applicant employment, or determining future wages and benefits.

Employers should review their policies and practices to ensure that they, and any recruiters they may utilize, are not seeking or relying upon a job applicant’s salary history information, from either the applicant or his or her current or former employers.

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