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Illinois Amended Equal Pay Act, Requiring Immediate Changes to Hiring Practices

Governor Pritzker signed into law on July 31, 2019 significant changes to the Equal Pay Act that will require all employers to reevaluate their hiring practices and policies. These changes go into effect on September 29, 2019.

Key Changes

  1. Wage History: Employers may not (a) screen job applicants based on wage or benefits history, (b) request wage or benefits history as a condition of employment, interview, etc., or (c) request wage or benefit history from a current or former employer.
  2. Disclosure of Wages: Employers may not prohibit employees from discussing information about wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation with certain exceptions.

Wage History – What Should Employers Do?

  • Employers need to reassess and discuss their hiring and recruiting processes to ensure that salary information is no longer requested in the process.
  • Managers and anyone involved in the hiring process should be trained to comply with the law.
  • Third-party recruiters must also be in compliance because the employer may be responsible.
  • These restrictions include asking any job applicants about salary and wage history during interviews.
  • This does not prohibit an employer from discussing the compensation and benefits information of the prospective job.
  • An employer is not in violation of the law if an applicant voluntarily provides this information, provided that the employer does not rely on this disclosure in offering the job to the applicant.

Disclosure of Wages – What Should Employers Do?

  • Any employment agreement, policy or handbook that prevents the disclosure of wages, salary or benefits needs to be amended to be in compliance.
  • An employer may limit certain employees (HR, supervisors) that have access to other employee wages or salary information from discussing this information without the prior written consent from the employee whose information is sought.

Remedies

Both amendments are subject to the Equal Pay Act’s five year statute of limitations and employees may be able to recover actual damages, special damages up to $10,000, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. In certain circumstances, an employee may also be able to recover compensatory and punitive damages.

If you have any questions regarding these or any other employment laws, please contact:  Walker Lawrence at (312) 368-0100 or wlawrence@lgattorneys.com, or any of our litigation attorneys at Levin Ginsburg.