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Illinois law prevents pay history questions

A job applicant's pay history often restricted wage increases for new employees and led to wage inequality based upon gender. A new Illinois law will prevent employers from asking job applicants or their former employers about their salary history. It is hoped that this employment law will prevent a form of wage sex discrimination.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on July 31. It will take effect 60 days later.

Under the proposal, which passed with bipartisan support, workers will be able to seek up to $10,000 in damages against employers who commit violations. Employees will also receive legal protection if they discuss their salary or benefits with their co-workers.

Proponents said this new law is a measure to narrow the wages gap between men and women. On average, according to the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, women workers in Illinois earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Paid parental leave, scheduling that is predictable and affordable and accessible childcare may be future priorities, according to the bill's sponsor.

Shortly after assuming office in January, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order forbidding state agencies from asking job applicants about their pay from earlier employers. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel signed a similar executive order for Chicago city workers in 2018.

Former Gov. Bruce Brauner vetoed two earlier versions of this bill. He argued that there were better business friendly methods to deal with this issue. Gov. Brauner cited a similar law that took effect in Massachusetts last year that permits employers to ask for a wage history after making a job and salary offer. Business groups such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce opposed this law and previous legislation.

An attorney can help workers facing discrimination under Illinois and federal law seek damages and compensation. They can help assure that their employments rights are protected.

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