The Illinois House of Representatives has passed House Bill 2462, which aims to prevent pay discrimination against women in Illinois. The bill amends the existing Equal Pay Act of 2003, which prohibits employers from paying wages to another employee of the opposite sex for the same or substantially similar work, where the job requires substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions.
The bill would make it unlawful for an employer “to seek the wage or salary history, including benefits or other compensation, of any job applicant from any current or former employer.” That prohibition extends to offers of employment or terms of continued employment. Providing such a “clean slate” would help prevent any prior bias from being carried forward.
Exceptions for pay disparity still remain where the payment is made under a: 1) seniority system; 2) merit system; 3) system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or, 4) differential based on any other factor than: i) sex or ii) a factor that would constitute unlawful discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. But the bill limits those exceptions by requiring that any disparity cannot be derived from prior disparities based on sex or other protected characteristics. Additionally, the disparity must be based on business necessity that can’t be achieved any other way, and the entire disparity must be accounted for by a legitimate factor.
Supporters say the House bill would strengthen the existing Equal Pay Act of 2003 because disparity still exists. According to the Census Bureau, in 2016, women made 79 cents for every dollar as their male counterparts across the country.
Ultimately, proponents say the bill serves to reduce discrimination and will help stimulate the economy because it will help to raise the wages of women throughout the state and put more dollars into the pockets of consumers.
Next stop is the Illinois Senate, and we will keep you apprised of what happens next.