2019Equal Pay
Men and Women Question Marks Salary History

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 31, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation – House Bill 834 – that will prohibit employers from asking applicants about salary history to ensure equal pay for equal work while standing steps away from the headquarters of the U.S. Soccer Federation which continues to deny the four-time World Cup champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team equal pay, according to a press release on the Illinois.gov website.

“Less than a block from here sits the headquarters of the United States Soccer Federation, an organization that just this week defended a different kind of decision: to compensate its female players at lower rates than the men despite their substantially higher success rate, an act so questionable that the men’s team itself declared the justification inequitable and unfair,” Governor Pritzker stated in the press release.

House Bill 834 – which amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003 – will prohibit Illinois employers from requiring that applicants disclose salary history as a condition of employment, screening job applicants based on salary history, seeking salary history from current or former employers of applicants, or requiring salary history from applicants as a condition of being interviewed, considered for a job, or hired.

House Bill 834 takes effect in 60 days after the signing on September 29, 2019. The legislation also ensures employees can discuss their salary, benefits, or other compensation with colleagues, a practice that some employers prohibit or discourage against, in order to help the women in Illinois who account for almost half the workforce but earn only 79 percent of what men earn, according to the press release.

“The hiring process serves one purpose and one purpose alone: finding the best person for the job at hand. It’s no longer acceptable to wring quality work out of capable women at a discounted rate,” Governor Pritzker stated in the press release. “This law is about the kind of state we want to become – a state where we are not devaluing half our workforce simply because they’re women.”

On January 15, 2019 – during his first full day in office – Governor Pritzker signed Executive Order 2019-02, a package of legislation and executive orders designed to raise and protect the wages of working families that included a ban on asking applicants for state jobs about their salary history to ensure pay equity for women, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor.

States that have passed salary history laws include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Major cities that have passed salary laws include Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show women earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2015. Statistics from the National Committee on Pay Equity show the gender wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the U.S. since 1963 when Congress passed the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits employers from paying women and men unequally for the same job.

“If new pay is based on previous pay, gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of salary history bans is to base compensation on the work performed and not rely on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” explained Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which cities, counties, and states prohibit such questions, as well as software that facilitates compliance with equal pay laws, or else that employer could be fined,” said Rosen, noting that salary history bans were chosen as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers employers flexible and customizable employment verifications that provide the salary history of applicants only if permitted by state and local equal pay laws. To learn more about employment verifications from ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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