The General Assembly amended the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) this year to ensure that Illinois employers do not pay African-American employees less than their counterparts who are performing work that is “the same or substantially similar”.
The Illinois Equal Pay Act also prohibits employers from paying male and female employees, who are doing “the same or substantially similar work”, differently based upon their gender.
I believe that employees, who have free access to salary survey information online and can freely discuss their wages with co-workers, will progressively pressure their employers to compensate them according to the true worth of their positions. I also believe that the EEOC, Illinois Department of Human Rights and trial courts will see a large increase in cases alleging pay discrimination in the next few years.
The Illinois Equal Pay Act does allow for pay differences between employees, even those whose work is the “same or substantially similar”. An employer can defend against pay disparity claims by using seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or other non-discriminatory factors to decide on what a person is paid, assuming these issues meet other requirements in the IEPA.
So, what have you got to hide?
Many employers get upset when they find that employees are talking about what they are paid. If your system is legally sound and intelligently administered, you wouldn’t care if they discussed their pay.
Start by developing a legally sound pay system, one that promotes transparency and truly rewards seniority, merit, quality and quantity of work or other important factors.
As a long-time compensation consultant, I know that developing a system for a business really isn’t that hard to do and, once done, it just feels good.
I will blog more about this topic in the next few weeks.
Please see my other blog posts on recent Illinois law changes.
Illinois Human Rights Act changes:
Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Requirements: