On July 31, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Equal Pay Act of 2003. The Equal Pay Act of 2003 made it illegal to discriminate against employees regarding pay based on sex or race. The new salary amendment was signed in an effort to close the gender wage gap and the law is set to go into effect on September 29, 2019.
The law prohibits an employer from seeking the salary history, including benefits or other compensation, of a job applicant from any current or former employer. While employers can no longer inquire about salary history, the law does allow certain related information to be discussed with applicants. Employers may provide information about the compensation and benefits offered in the position. They may also discuss with an applicant his/her expectation regarding compensation and benefits. Applicants may voluntarily disclose their current or prior compensation and benefits history; employers may not consider that information when making employment and compensation decisions.
Additionally, the law provides further protections to employees allowing them to discuss wages and benefits with others. Employers are now prohibited from requiring employees to sign a contract or waiver prohibiting them from discussing compensation and benefit information.
Employers violating these new amendments are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each violation. Furthermore, an employee may bring a civil action against the employer for violations of the amendment for damages of up to $10,000.
Employers should establish guidelines and conduct training for employees involved in the interviewing and hiring process regarding questions eliciting previous or current compensation and benefit information.
Employers should review their applications or other documents used in the screening process to ensure they do not elicit previous or current compensation and benefit information.
Employers should review their internal documents such as handbooks and policies to ensure they do not prohibit employees from discussing compensation information with other employees.
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