YOU DESERVE FAIR PAY

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

You Deserve Fair Pay

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Like us, you believe everyone deserves to be paid fairly. But women in the U.S. who work full-time, year-round are paid only 83 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. And when you include both full- and part-time workers, the average woman makes just 77 cents to a man’s dollar. The barriers are greater for Women of Color, who have even wider wage gaps due to both gender and racial bias, and for women in low-paid jobs who are struggling to make ends meet. For instance, at the current rate of progress, Black women won’t have equal pay until the year 2369, and Latina/x women won’t have equal pay until 2451!

For nearly 50 years, Women Employed has been fighting to make work work for more people―and that includes ensuring more women are paid fairly.

But we need your help! Please take a minute to:

    1. Learn more about your rights with the resources below, and
    2. Spread the word about workplace equity to co-workers, family and friends.

Sign up here to learn more about Women Employed’s work for equal pay and support our mission to help women understand their workplace rights.

To help us spread the word, share this post with your social media networks:

A recent study shows 4 out of 5 working women in Illinois don’t know their #EqualPay rights! We need YOU to be part of the solution. Get more info from @WomenEmployed at https://womenemployed.org/equal-pay/. Then share it!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The gender wage gap is the difference in the average earnings of women compared to the average earnings of men. In 2021, women working full-time were paid just 83.1 percent of what men working full-time were paid, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). When you include both full- and part-time workers, the gap increased—with women making only 77.3 percent of what men made. And the gaps are even larger for many Women of Color. Black women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men, and Latina/x women are only paid 49 cents!

Pay discrimination occurs when employers pay employees differently based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information. Pay discrimination is illegal. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Under this federal law, pay discrimination is illegal.

No. The Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women, and to African-American and non-African-American employees, for doing the same or substantially similar work, except if the difference is based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender or race. In fact, the Illinois Equal Pay Act protects not just women, but individuals of any sex from pay discrimination on the basis of sex.

The federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 also requires employers to pay men and women equally for doing the same work at the same workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Under this federal law, pay discrimination based on sex is illegal.

No. The Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women, and to African-American and non-African-American employees, for doing the same or substantially similar work, except if the difference is based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender or race. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Under this federal law, pay discrimination based on race is illegal.

The U.S. Department of Labor has put together a resource to learn your rights on equal pay and pay transparency, as well as your rights in each state. Access the U.S. Department of Labor Resource for more information.

No. An employer cannot prohibit its employees from disclosing their salaries, benefits or other compensation to other individuals. This is true both in Illinois and nationally. More information on your rights in Illinois, provided by the Illinois Department of Labor, can be found here. More information on your federal rights, provided by the National Labor Relations Board, can be found here.

Not in Illinois. Employers in Illinois cannot ask job applicants about their current or past wages—a practice that contributes to wage discrimination. This law is an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003. Learn more about the law and your rights.

If you live outside of Illinois, check this list from AAUW to see if there is a law in your city or state that prohibits this practice.

Remember that no matter the law where you live—even in cities and states where there is not a salary history ban in place—you are never required to answer questions about past wages. Here are a few tips from our No Salary History toolkit:

    1. Before going into the application and hiring process, know your rights. Learn about the law in your area and who it covers. If you live in Illinois, read our FAQ on the Illinois No Salary History law.
    2. Do not answer the question. If you’re filling out an online application, leave the field blank. If the application requires an entry, enter NA or 0. If you’re asking in a phone screen or interview, the above advice can still be useful. Try to avoid the question by redirecting the interviewer—ask for their salary range for the position, and/or share your salary requirements.
    3. Do your homework! Go in prepared to answer what your desired salary range or salary requirements are. For tips on how to do your research and more when negotiating a salary, use our worksheet that includes step by step guidance on how to make the best case for yourself.

       

    4. If you feel comfortable, tell the interviewer that questions about salary history or past wages are not permissible in your city or state (they may not know!), but you’d be happy to discuss your salary requirements or the salary range for the job.
    5. Document the conversation as soon as you leave the room to ensure you have a record of exactly what was asked, by whom, and when if you do ever choose to make a claim. However, DO NOT record the interview. Recording a conversation without consent of all parties is illegal, and the last thing you want is to be in violation of the law.
    6. If you were asked for your salary history, and you suspect it impacted the hiring decision, learn about your options for recourse. If you live in Illinois, read our FAQ. Or research the law and enforcement options in your area.

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) enforces the Illinois Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women, and African-American and non-African-American workers receive equal pay for doing the same or substantially similar work. If you think you are not being paid fairly, an employee or former employee may file a complaint. You can file a complaint online or by calling the IDOL at 1-866-372-4365. If you think your employer has discriminated against you, there is a time limit to file, so contact the agency as soon as possible to file a complaint.

For general information, you can contact IDOL at 312-793-2808.

You can also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Under this law, pay discrimination is illegal everywhere in the United States. If you feel your employer has discriminated against you, there is a time limit to file, so contact the agency as soon as possible. How to file a claim with the EEOC.

Even if you aren’t ready to file a complaint, you can still contact the EEOC or IDOL to speak to someone about your legal rights. 

You can also take steps to protect your rights: 

    1. Keep copies of records related to your pay—offer letters, pay stubs, and any other wage-related information
       
    2. Keep records of your performance at work. Continue doing a good job at work, and print and save copies of job evaluations, emails or letters, or any other documentation that shows you are performing well.

    3. Seek support from your loved ones. Being treated unfairly is stressful and difficult, especially if you’re dealing with it on your own. 

Women Employed offers many resources and advice on ways for employers to advance gender equity in the workplace. For more information, see our employer toolkit or contact Sharmili Majmudar, EVP of Policy and Organizational Impact, at [email protected] or 312-702-2474.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

We want to make sure YOU know your rights to fair pay. Check out the tools and resources below and share them with your co-workers, friends and family.

YOUR ILLINOIS RIGHTS

Illinois' No Salary History Law

Employers in Illinois cannot ask job applicants about their current or past wages—a practice that contributes to wage discrimination. This law is an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003, and was passed in 2019.

Illinois' Equal Pay Act of 2003

In addition to the No Salary History provision above, the Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women, and to Black and non-Black employees, for doing the same or substantially similar work except if the difference is based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender or race.

Where to Go if Your Equal Pay Rights are Violated in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) enforces the Illinois Equal Pay Act, the law that requires that men and women receive equal pay for doing the same or substantially similar work. An employee or former employee may file a complaint. You can file a complaint online https://www2.illinois.gov/idol/Pages/Complaints.aspx or by calling them at 1-866-372-4365. If you think your employer has discriminated against you, there is a time limit to file, so you should contact the agency as soon as possible.

For general information, contact IDOL at 312-793-2808 or https://www2.illinois.gov/idol/Pages/default.aspx.

YOUR FEDERAL RIGHTS

Equal Pay and Pay Transparency Protections

The U.S. Department of Labor has put together a resource to learn your federal rights to equal pay and pay transparency, as well as your rights in each state.

Where to Go if Your Federal Equal Pay Rights are Violated

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that says there will be no job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Under this law, wage discrimination is illegal. If you feel your employer has discriminated against you, there is a time limit to file, so you should contact the agency as soon as possible.

OTHER RESOURCES

Salary Negotiation Workshop

Watch Women Employed’s salary negotiation workshop, which includes a specific focus on the barriers to pay equity facing Black and Latina/x women, led by Ibie Hart, Women Employed’s Director of Business Development. For a customized workshop on the impact of the gender wage gap, and tools for employers and employees to combat it including salary negotiation, email Ibie Hart.

The Fostering Access and Racial Equity (FARE) Grant

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) was recently one of six states and territories across the country awarded the US Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau FARE Grant, which helps women workers who earn low wages learn about and access their employment rights and benefits. 

Women Employed is partnering with IDOL on the Illinois FARE Grant project, which will raise awareness of pay equity and pay transparency standards among women workers, particularly low-wage women of color. Centering their needs and voices, the project will strengthen Illinois’ capacity to enforce pay equity and other employment protections, helping realize the intended outcomes of legislative action, inform enforcement strategies and more proactive investigations, and advance gender and racial equity statewide. For more about the FARE Grant, go to https://www.dol.gov/agencies/wb/grants/fare.

Thank You to Our FARE Grant Partners

About Women Employed

Women Employed (WE) is an almost 50-year-old advocacy organization that pursues equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces so that all women, families, and communities can thrive. Our mission is to improve the economic status of women and remove barriers to economic equity, with the bold social goal of closing the wealth gap at the intersection of gender and race.

Since our founding in 1973, we’ve been involved in nearly every major advance for working women, like advocating for the Family and Medical Leave Act and the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, helping write the rules that made sexual harassment illegal, working to pass the Illinois Equal Pay Act and No Salary History Law, Chicago’s paid sick time law, minimum wage increases, and fair scheduling ordinances. But our work is not done. Right now, we’re advocating nationally and in Illinois for pay equity and strengthened workplace protections. And we’re partnering with the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) to raise awareness of pay equity and pay transparency standards.