November 26, 2022

Volume XII, Number 330


Illinois Equal Pay Act Mandates to Take Effect September 29

Amendments to Illinois’ Equal Pay Act (EPA) go into effect on September 29, 2019, leaving employers little time to adjust their hiring practices. 

No Inquiries into Salary History. 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; or
  • 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 (i) providing information about the compensation or benefits of a position, or (ii) 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 the applicant employment or in setting compensation.

An employer found to have violated the law may be subject to: 

  1. Damages;
  2. Special damages not to exceed $10,000;
  3. Injunctive relief;
  4. Costs and reasonable attorney’s fees; and
  5. Civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each violation for each employee affected.

In order 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 any related documents, both on-line or in hard copy.

No Restrictions on an Employee’s Own Disclosure. The new law prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign contracts or waivers preventing them from disclosing information regarding their own wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation. Employers, however, may prohibit Human Resources personnel from disclosing other employees’ wage information without first obtaining written consent. 

Broader Definition for “Comparators.” The new law expands the definition of applicable comparators. 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.” 

Limited Exceptions to Equal Pay Treatment. Under the previous law, exceptions for pay differentials mirrored the federal Equal Pay Act and could be based on: i) seniority; ii) merit; iii) measures of earning based on quantity or quality of production; or iv) a factor other than sex, race, or unlawful discrimination. Under the amended law, any factor other than sex, race, or a factor that would constitute unlawful discrimination must also: (i) not be derived from a differential in compensation based  on sex, race, or another protected characteristic; (ii) relate to the job or business needs; and (iii) actually account for the differential. 

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 271

About this Author

Cashida Okeke, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Cashida N. Okeke is an Associate in the Greenville, South Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling. 

Ms. Okeke represents employers in various employment and labor matters, including claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation brought under Title VII and the ADEA, as well as in general employment litigation matters such as wrongful termination. Ms. Okeke also assists in advising clients on issues...

Kathryn Moran, Employment Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm

Kathryn Montgomery Moran is a Principal and the Office Litigation Manager of the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has extensive litigation experience in individual and class action cases in state and federal courts and administrative agencies.

When disputes cannot be resolved by agreement or dismissed on technical grounds, Ms. Moran tries cases before juries, judges, administrative law judges and arbitrators. She has successfully defended employers accused of the following: age, sex, race, disability and...

Julia S. Wolf Associate Chicago General Employment Litigation White Collar and Government Enforcement

Julia Wolf is an associate in the Chicago, IL office of Jackson Lewis P.C.  Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling. 

Ms. Wolf regularly represents clients in high-stakes class and collective action litigation and has handled cases arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage-and-hour laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Section 1983. Ms. Wolf also has experience handling matters before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois...