Illinois Expands Equal Pay Requirements to All Employers

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By Michael Bologna

Aug. 21 — All employers in Illinois, regardless of size, will be required to comply with the state's Equal Pay Act under legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) Aug. 20.

Rauner signed House Bill 3619, which eliminates a provision of the Illinois Equal Pay Act that limited its protections to employees of organizations “with four or more employees.” The measure enjoyed near unanimous support in both houses of the General Assembly in May. The governor issued no comments as part of his endorsement.

The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers “from paying unequal wages to men and women for doing the same or substantially similar work, except if the wage difference is based upon a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender,” according to the Illinois Department of Labor's website.

The new law (Public Act 99-0418) also expands the menu of civil penalties that can be levied against employers that violate the statute. While the equal pay statute previously capped penalties at $2,500 per violation, H.B. 3619 creates a new cap of $5,000.

Two Tiers of Penalties 

In addition, H.B. 3619 creates two tiers of penalties based on the size of the employer.

For employers with fewer than four employees, civil penalties per affected employee are calculated at $500 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense, and $5,000 for third and subsequent offenses. For employers with four or more employees, civil penalties per affected employee are calculated at $2,500 for a first offense, $3,000 for a second offense, and $5,000 for third and subsequent offenses.

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s Illinois Minimum Wage chapter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Bologna in Chicago at mbologna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com