Biss05312017A measure designed to narrow the gender wage gap in Illinois was approved by the state Senate Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

House Bill 2462, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), would prohibit Illinois employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, a practice that perpetuates gender discrimination and wage inequality.

“Most employers don’t discriminate, but some do. And if you are unlucky enough to have worked for a company that pays less based on gender, then that discriminatory wage may to follow you from workplace to workplace throughout your lifetime,” Biss said. “One way we can begin to stamp out gender wage discrimination is by barring employers from asking applicants about their salary history as a basis for setting future income.”

Women in Illinois make up almost half the workforce but earn 79 cents for every $1 paid to men. The wage gap is worse for women of color: black and African-American women earn 63 cents and Hispanic and Latina women earn 48 cents for every $1 that white men earn. Working mothers earn 71 cents while single mothers are paid just 58 cents for every $1 paid to fathers.

In total, Illinois women who work full time lose nearly $20 billion each year due to unequal pay, according to statistics. Lost wages mean families have less money to save for future expenses or to spend on basic goods and services – spending that helps drive the state and local economy.

Massachusetts adopted a law similar to HB2462 in 2016. So far it is the only state to ban employers from asking about salary history, but other states have introduced similar legislation, including California, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and others.

In addition, New York City and Philadelphia recently enacted ordinances banning salary history questions. And the federal Pay Equity for All Act has been introduced in Congress and would ban salary history questions nationwide.

Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) sponsored House Bill 2462 in the House. The legislation has passed in both chambers and now will go to the governor for consideration.

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