Pay History Matters in an Era When Workers Have More Rights — Top Chicago Employment Lawyers

Inquiries into the background history of an employee have the potential to affect the salary set for an employee in the future. Questions such as,  “how much did you make in your previous job?” have the potential to legally tie up employees and not in a good way.  Though the question may lead to the formulation of a salary or not intentionally meant to do a harm, to some the interview question may sound like bait.  This is especially when it comes to women being more “woke” in a post-Trump era.  Typically, women minorities have had a history of earning less, as with other minorities and the pinch is felt during the interview process.

This salary question may come in pre-screening for an interview, during an interview or after the interview process. Several states have measures in place that now preclude employers from being able to ask employees about prior pay.  Does this curtail the gap between race and gender? Employers are generally looking for the standard set by industry but from a legal perspective, these standards are now viewed as being set with an imbalance and huge discrepancy.  That is why the courts have also stepped into place to interpret what is legal and not when it comes to this process.

There are companies that have moved forward and already adapted to the changes in the current legal climate.  For that reason, changes have been made to ensure that this type of question is not asked.  Hiring policies have been made to reflect in with some of the bigger names that do not wish to even take a legal risk or set a standard that would not be fair. 

A Philadelphia law banned questions about pay in a federal district court ruling by ruling that it was an impingement on free speech.  A recent ruling was made by a female who sued her employer for paying her less than her male colleague based on the scale of her prior salary.

It was clearly made known to the court that she had received the same step increases as males under the union contract but was hired at a lower rate due to her prior salary.  The employer testified to that being the only basis for the difference. Application of the Equal Pay Act could not justify this at all.  It was a clear violation as the act prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of sex by paying fewer wages “for equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility performed under similar working conditions.” There are factors other than sex that would change that.

Some executives that employ see some appeal in this when it comes to uniformity in pay. This will eventually be reflected in internal policy when it comes the employment screening process.  Let’s face it, some did not even like to probe questions concerning salary history which has the ability to show candidates that relationships do not need to become estranged.  This case is indicative of the trend that is happening nationally. A number of states and cities have passed such laws banning prospective employers from asking such questions over the last year. A bill has also been introduced at the federal level. The employer-employee relationship comes out stronger as a result.    This has the capability of garnering interest in company culture.

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