Equal Pay Act Now in Effect in Illinois

Offending employers can be fined for violations.

October 01, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Amendments to Illinois’ Equal Pay Act went into effect on Sunday, Sept. 29, leaving employers little time to adjust their hiring practices, reports the National Law Review.

Under the amended EPA, employers and employment agencies may not: 

  • Screen applicants based on their current or prior wage or salary history, including benefits or other compensation
  • Request or require an applicant’s salary history as a condition of being considered for employment
  • Request or require that an applicant disclose his or her salary history as a condition of employment

Employers also are prohibited from seeking an applicant’s salary history from an applicant’s current or former employer.

Employers are not prohibited however, from providing information about the compensation or benefits of a position or discussing an applicant’s expectations about compensation or benefits. An employer also would not violate the EPA if a job applicant voluntarily discloses his or her current or prior compensation, provided the employer does not consider the voluntary disclosure in deciding whether to offer employment or in setting compensation.

An employer who violates the law may be subject to: 

  • Damages
  • Special damages not to exceed $10,000
  • Injunctive relief
  • Costs and reasonable attorney’s fees
  • Civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each violation for each employee affected

To avoid fines and lawsuits, companies recruiting in Illinois should remove any questions about an applicant’s previous pay or benefits from their job applications and related documents, both online and hard copy. Employers may not require employees to sign contracts or waivers that prevent them from disclosing information regarding their own wages, salary or benefits. Employers, however, may prohibit human resources personnel from disclosing other employees’ wage information without first obtaining written consent.

Previously, the Act prohibited pay discrimination where employees were performing substantially similar work on jobs that required “equal skill, effort and responsibility.” The amended Act refers to employees who are performing substantially similar work on jobs requiring “substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility.”