Newly elected Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has wasted little time putting in place an Executive Order that prohibits state agencies from asking job candidates about their salary history. Effective January 15, 2019, Illinois now joins 11 other states that have enacted similar bans. Governor Pritzker’s action signals that he is receptive to signing a bill impacting private employers as well. The Illinois General Assembly in 2017 and 2018 had passed such legislation, only to have then Governor Rauner refuse to sign it into law. Specifically, we can expect a law in the private sector shortly that:
- Prohibits discrimination in wages among employees performing substantially similar work which requires substantially similar skills, effort, and responsibility;
- Requires that factors used to describe pay differentials not be based on sex or any protected characteristic and account for the entire differential;
- Prohibits employers from seeking salary history, including benefits or other compensation, of any job applicant, unless the information is a matter of public record or the applicant is a current employee;
- Creates a private right of against employers, which could lead to compensatory and punitive damages.
Proponents of a salary ban believe that an employer’s reliance on candidates pay levels in hiring and salary decisions contributes to the pay disparity between men and women and women of color in particular. Women, due to family obligations, are statistically more prone than men to leave and reenter the workforce causing a negative effect on salary growth. When initial pay is based on what a new hire was making at his or her last job, this negative effect is perpetuated.
Opponents of the ban point to the fact that there is little proof that salary bans, standing alone, are effective in overcoming gender-based pay disparity.
If, as expected, Governor Pritzker does sign legislation that would extend the salary ban to private employers, hiring protocols will need to be adjusted. Eliminating salary history can lessen pay discrimination lawsuits and forces employers to focus more on candidates’ aptitude and experience. Illinois employers should consider removing salary histories from their hiring process, including removal of questions about current salary level from applications, retraining personnel involved in hiring, and incorporate the prohibition into screening and interview policies.
As always, where there are important legislative developments impacting the labor and employment world, we will keep you up to date. This is an area of concern for all in the labor and employment area.
With over 34 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the changes to the employment laws. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website.