Today, Governor Pritzker signed HB0834 into law, amending Illinois’ Equal Pay Act to now prohibit employers from inquiring into job applicants’ salary or wage histories or using an applicant’s wage history, if volunteered, to screen them out of a position. Employers may still, however, ask applicants about their wage expectations. Unlike certain other jurisdictions’ wage history laws, it is unclear if the Illinois law will permit employers to ask applicants in commissions-driven fields what their current production or revenue numbers are as a backdoor to calculating or estimating their wages. Applicants whose rights under the Act have been violated may seek relief by filing a civil action against the prospective employer.
Wage history laws have been enacted in 17 states and numerous municipalities. In many of those jurisdictions, however, the laws are only applicable to public employers.
Wage history laws are viewed as a powerful mechanism to help cure longstanding gender and race-based pay equity issues. The concern is that employers, including those who may have no intention of discriminating, use wage histories to set pay for incoming employees and therefore perpetuate any past pay discrimination.