Tag Archives: Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants act

UPDATED: California Bans Applicant Salary History Inquiries

Contributed by Noah A. Frank, November 8, 2017

Add salary history to the growing list of topics that may be off limits on employment applications and during interviews, depending on where your business operates.

32420632 - law gavel on a stack of american moneyCalifornia joins a growing list of jurisdictions banning salary history inquiries. On October 12, 2017, California Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 168, which prohibits employers from seeking or relying upon applicants’ salary history and using such information as the basis for establishing compensation. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Like ban-the-box legislation (banning inquiries into criminal conviction history) and sick leave ordinances, this is likely the start of a national trend enacted on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction piecemeal basis.  California joins Massachusetts, Oregon, and Delaware, along with several municipalities, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and U.S. territory Puerto Rico, to enact such legislation in an emerging national trend.  Indeed, since we reported on Illinois’s forestalled HB1462 amending the Equal Pay Act in September, the Illinois House has overridden the governor’s veto, and the bill is on its way to the Illinois Senate for similar consideration.

The Basics

Like the other jurisdictions’ laws, California’s legislation is meant to remedy past gender-based compensation discrimination.  However, given the broad language, this bill will apply to all protected classes such as (and not limited to) race, religion, military status. Under AB-168, all employers in the state of California:

  1. May not inquire directly or indirectly into an applicant’s compensation and benefits (unless publicly available as provided by other laws).
  2. May not rely on salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant.
  3. Must provide the pay scale for the position to an applicant applying for employment “upon reasonable request.”  Note that this is a fairly unique provision in California’s law (at least for now).
  4. May not allow prior salary alone to justify any disparity in compensation.

Notably, if an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting discloses” compensation history, the employer may then consider it as a factor in determining the salary to offer an applicant.

Compliance Made Easy

In light of these trends in the workplace, employers must ensure that they are compliant with new and emerging laws as enacted, and to also perform routine audits – including employment forms, handbooks, policies, and templates.  As it relates to these salary inquiry laws, employers should (1) ensure job applications are compliant and do not include salary/wage inquiries, and (2) review interview questions, especially “scripts” used by management, and ensure that those conducting interviews are aware of the new unlawful inquiry.

What’s the Bottom Line on Salary History Inquiry Bans? Don’t Ask.

You may not ask applicants “how much do you currently make?” But you may ask: “how much would you like to earn in this position?” or “What are your compensation expectations?” or other similar future-oriented inquiries.

Small Employers in Chicago Must Ban the Box, Too

Contributed by Steven Jados

Effective January 1, 2015, employers that have fewer than 15 employees and either maintain a business facility within Chicago’s city limits or are subject to any of the license requirements of Title 4 of the Chicago Municipal Code (or both), are prohibited from pre-screening applicants for employment based on criminal history.  Essentially, Chicago has taken the Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (otherwise known as the Illinois Ban-the-Box law), and applied it to the employers doing business in Chicago who are too small to be covered by the statewide law.

Chicago’s Ban-the-Box ordinance states:

Employers that are not subject to the Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, including the City of Chicago and its sister agencies, may not inquire about or into, consider, or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after the applicant has been determined qualified for the relevant position and notified that he has been selected for an interview, or, if there is no interview, until after a conditional offer of employment is extended to the applicant.

The same three carve-outs in the Illinois Act are also present in the Chicago ordinance: (1) federal and state law exclusions based on certain crimes; (2) standard fidelity bond-related disqualifications; and (3) positions subject to the licensure requirements of the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act.  Chicago’s Ban-the-Box also does not prevent an employer from providing written notice of specific offenses that will disqualify an applicant from employment.

Additionally, the Chicago ordinance prohibits the city and its sister agencies, which include the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District, among others, from automatically disqualifying an applicant based on criminal convictions discovered after the applicant is interviewed or given a conditional job offer.  The ordinance also provides nine factors that the city and its agencies are to consider when making an employment decision based on an applicant’s criminal past.

But perhaps the ordinance’s most significant provision is that any employer with a facility in Chicago or subject to the city’s Title 4 license requirements that uses an applicant’s criminal past as a complete or partial basis for rejecting the applicant must communicate that fact to the applicant when telling him or her of the rejection.  In light of the EEOC’s current enforcement strategy for employment decisions based on criminal records, an employer’s admission that it based an employment decision on an applicant’s criminal record could expose the employer to a substantial risk of legal liability.

Complaints of alleged violations of Chicago’s Ban-the-Box ordinance can be made to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the penalties for violations may include fines of $100 to $1,000, and “license discipline” for city licensees.