At Grassroots we are dedicated to serving patients and communities from all walks of life. In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the gender wage gap. As women are underrepresented both within the cannabis industry and as patients and consumers.
On July 31, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law prohibiting Illinois employers from asking job applicants or their previous employers about salary history.
The law amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003, which made it illegal to discriminatorily pay employees based on sex or race.
The reason behind the new salary history amendment is an effort to close the gender wage gap. According to a news release from the governor’s office, women in Illinois earn 79% of what men earn.
Several other states and municipalities have implemented similar laws that ban salary history inquiries, including New York, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Alabama, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
In addition to making it unlawful for employers to seek salary history information from applicants, the law also protects employees’ rights to discuss wages and benefits with others.
If an employer violates this law, an employee may bring a civil action within five years and seek to recover “any damages incurred,” “special damages” up to $10,000, injunctive relief, costs and attorney’s fees. And, employers who violate the law are also subject to civil penalties of up to $5,000 “for each violation for each employee affected.”
Employers can still provide information about wages, benefits, compensation, or salary offered in relation to a position. They can also discuss wage expectations or salary, benefits, and other compensation with an applicant.
Applicants are free to voluntarily disclose their current or prior wage or salary history, so long as the employer does not consider that information when making employment or compensation decisions.