Requests for Wage History is ‘History’ in Illinois


A standard feature found on most job applications is a request for a candidate’s employment history, and often, his or her prior wage or salary.  For Illinois employers, however, it’s time to update that job application because asking for past salary information is a violation of the Illinois Equal Pay Act beginning Sunday, September 29, 2019.

According to the new law, employers cannot screen, request or require wage or salary history as a condition of employment or as a basis for making a hiring decision.  Even if job candidates voluntarily offer their current or past compensation information, the hiring employer cannot consider it.  Exceptions to the rule include employees seeking a position with the same current employer, or applicants whose wage or salary is already a matter of public record.

Although an employer’s requests for prior compensation are off-limits, companies remain free to discuss an applicant’s expectations concerning compensation and benefits, and to provide information about the benefits, wages or salary associated with an open position.

The Illinois Department of Labor’s Conciliation and Mediation Division is responsible for the investigation of potential violations and enforcement.  An employer found in violation could be required to pay damages, costs and attorney’s fees in addition to civil penalties imposed by the state.  Any action by an employee to recover damages from an employer under this rule must be brought within five (5) years from the date of the violation.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice.  The Townsel Law Firm represents small businesses in employment-related matters and can mediate disputes in the workplace.  To contact the Firm please call 312-772-5850.


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