August 12, 2019

Illinois Equal Pay Act – September 2019

A few weeks ago, Governor, J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 834 into law. This bill amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) of 2003 and takes effect rather quickly on September 29, 2019!


What makes this law different than it was in 2003? A few things:

  1. The law previously included language that stated that employees be compensated equally for “substantially equal work” without regard to sex or race. It has now revised “equal work” to state “substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility.”
  2. The Act previously stated the pay discrepancies could be explained by several different factors such as seniority, merit, etc. However, there was a catch-all qualification that stated “any factor other than sex or race.” It is now clarified to state that any compensation discrepancy is tied to the job in question.
  3. Most of us that have been in a Human Resources or Office Manager role for a while have come across employees discussing their wages amongst one another and the issues that this can cause. As most of you likely know, we cannot require that employees do not discuss their wages with others, including their co-workers. The Act now states that you may also not force an employee to sign an agreement or contract stating that employees are not able to do this.
  4. Currently, the law permits employees to recover only amounts of an underpayment if they are on the winning side of a suit whereas the new law will allow an employee to succeed in being awarded compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief. Employers may also be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per violation.
  5. And last but not least. The IEPA now bans employers from inquiring about an applicant’s wages at a previous or current place of employment. Specifically stating that Illinois employers are prohibited from:
    1. Requesting or requiring wage or salary history from an applicant as a condition of being interviewed, considered for a job, or hired;
    2. Requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose their wage or salary history as a condition of employment;
    3. Screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages or salary histories by requiring that the history satisfy a minimum or maximum level; and
    4. Seeking a job applicant’s wage or salary history from any current or former employer. However, this subsection does not apply if the applicant is a current employee seeking another position within the same organization, or if their salary history is available as a matter of public record.

The good news? You CAN engage in the interactive process with applicants. Ask them what their salary requirements or desired compensation is! Nothing prohibits an applicant from voluntarily sharing current or prior wage history with you, we are just not able to rely on this information when making decisions to make the applicant an offer of employment or when determining their salary.

What steps do you need to take to be in compliance? My typical answer…training! Make sure your interviewing managers are well trained on things they are and are NOT allowed to ask in the interview process. It also appears that an update to your application process might be in the near future if you still have a spot that asks for the current salary.

This article (“Article”) is a service made available Priority Staffing Group, Ltd, its partners, affiliates or subsidiaries (“Provider”). This Article provides general information related to the law and is designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. This Article does not provide legal advice and Provider is not a law firm. None of our content writers are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and Provider or any of our representatives.


Megan Jones | HR Director

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