By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Women’s advocacy groups say basing a new hire’s salary on previous compensation perpetuates disparities in pay between men and women, who may have been underpaid in the past.
Applicants for jobs with the city of Chicago can no longer be asked about their salary history, part of a growing effort nationwide to improve pay equality between men and women.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed the executive order Tuesday to mark Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work, on average, to earn as much as men did the previous year.
The order comes as Illinois lawmakers consider two competing pieces of legislation that aim to close the wage gap by prohibiting employers from asking job candidates what they’ve earned in the past, resurrecting the issue after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed such a bill last year.
It also comes the same week a federal appeals court ruled that employers can’t use salary history to justify pay disparities.
Women’s advocacy groups say basing a new hire’s salary on previous compensation perpetuates disparities in pay between men and women, who may have been underpaid in the past.
Women also tend to work in lower-paying jobs and are more likely than men to take time off or reduce hours to care for children or other family members, which affects prior salary levels.
Emanuel’s order prohibits city departments from requesting or seeking out a candidate’s salary history, and from screening applicants based on their prior wages, benefits or other compensation. The executive order also calls on the city’s sister agencies, such as the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Public Schools, to enact similar prohibitions.
“By signing this executive order, we are taking action to say that this practice has no place in our city and taking a significant step towards closing the gender pay gap,” Emanuel said in a news release.