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Illinois Governor Vetoes Employment Bills Aimed at Salary History Inquiries, Wage Issues

Legislation in Illinois that would have outlawed employers from seeking job applicants’ compensation history has failed to become law, following Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent veto.

The bill would have amended the Illinois Equal Pay Act and was aimed at the practice of seeking job applicants’ compensation history during the hiring process, which equal pay advocates contended has the effect of perpetuating the salary differences between male and female employees that may have been the result of past discriminatory practices. The proposed changes to the state’s Equal Pay Act would have made it unlawful for an employer to screen job applicants based on their wage or salary history, including asking about an applicant’s current and prior compensation.

While the Illinois action is dead for now, similar laws exist in other states and many more have legislation pending. This will continue to be a hot-button issue. Employers who do business in multiple states or municipalities should remain up to date on the various state and municipal prohibitions on salary history inquiries. For example, Massachusetts, Delaware and Oregon have enacted such legislation, while large cities such as New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco have local ordinances in place. These new laws are scheduled to take effect this year or next depending on the particular law and pending legal challenges, according to published reports.

In other Illinois employment legislation news, Gov. Rauner also vetoed legislation that would have amended the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act to make it a felony (rather than a misdemeanor) for a person or entity to fail to pay wages or final compensation if the amount at issue is more than $5,000. The same bill would have created a new provision in Illinois state contracting laws to prevent repeated or willful violators of certain wage-and-hour laws from doing business with the state for a period of five years. Gov. Rauner also vetoed legislation that would have raised the current Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 per hour in increments over the next five years to reach as much as $15 per hour by 2022.

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