CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that the State will recover thousands of dollars for two female employees as a result of an Illinois’ Equal Pay Act investigation. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) found that Rodriguez and Sons, a construction services business in Cook County, violated the Act by paying male employees higher wages for performing the same work as female employees. The Department demanded the employer to pay $8,976 in total backwages -- $4,488 for each complainant.
“In Illinois, women must be paid the same amount as men for the same work. Employers need to realize that paying women less than men for equal work is not only unfair, it’s against the law. I signed a stronger Equal Pay Act to help make sure that women are protected from gender-based discrimination at work, and our Department of Labor will not hesitate to enforce the act to its fullest extent,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The Equal Pay Act complaints were filed by two female painters who are no longer employed with the company. Male painters in the company were paid $10 per hour, a full $2 more per hour –for the same work - than the two females who filed the complaint.
Last August, the Department’s Equal Opportunity Workforce Division (EOWD) entered into a settlement agreement allowing back wages to be paid over a period of time, but not to exceed six months. Three equal payments will be made to the complainants and the first payment of $2,992.00 ($1496.00 each) was made on September 6, 2006.
“This is a good law and people should know more about it because there are many more women out there who can benefit from its protections. I thank Governor Blagojevich for enacting legislation that makes it clear than in this country women are equal and should be paid the same as men for the same work,” said Andrea R., one of the two painters involved in the complaint.
Gov. Blagojevich signed the Illinois Equal Pay Act in 2003 to close the wage gap between men and women, extending protections from gender-based discrimination in pay to an additional 330,000 workers. The Act expanded the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 by covering more workers, providing better enforcement mechanisms and improving public awareness. This year, Governor Blagojevich proclaimed Apr. 25, 2006 as Illinois Equal Pay Day to create more awareness of this law and its requirements. IDOL enforces the Act, which became effective on Jan. 1, 2004.
Illinois’ Equal Pay Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women doing the same or substantially similar work, requiring equal skill, effort, responsibility and under similar working conditions. There are exceptions: such as if the wage difference is based upon a seniority system, merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production or factors other than gender. The law protects both men and women from pay disparity and any individual who files an Equal Pay complaint is protected under the Act from harassment or retaliation. For more information on Illinois’ Equal Pay Act or to file a complaint, call the Illinois Department of Labor’s Equal Pay hotline at 866-EPA-IDOL. Complaint forms are also available in a downloadable format on this website:
Since January of 2004, the Department has responded to approximately 2,800 calls on the 1-866-EPA-IDOL toll-free hotline, handled 214 cases, prompted settlements between employees and employers as a result of strict enforcement, and recovered close to $11,000 in back wages under the Act.
“The Illinois Department of Labor is proud of its work in making sure that employees are paid fairly and will continue to enforce the Equal Pay Act and create awareness of the law through outreach. Pay equity in the workplace is a priority for our Governor and it’s the law in Illinois,” said Art Ludwig, Director of the Illinois Department of Labor.
Protecting workers’ rights is a top priority for Gov. Blagojevich, who has through executive or legislative action, made Illinois the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to promoting the welfare of low-income workers. Now:
- Illinois is the only state in the nation that provides affordable health insurance for all children, so hardworking people don’t have to worry about what to do when their children get sick. The Governor has also expanded the state’s KidCare and FamilyCare programs at a time when most states are slashing benefits for the working poor and kicking people off Medicaid.
- Illinois is the only state in the nation that provides universal pre-school for all children. Parents will not have to struggle to find a place to take care of their children while they are at work – making their lives easier and providing great educational benefits for their children.
- Illinois has introduced new and aggressive laws against predatory lending so that hard working individuals and families will not fall into an endless cycle of debt caused by unaffordable loans and abusive interest rates.
- Illinois is the first state in the union to introduce open road tolling – so that working people can get home from work sooner and spend more time with their families.
- Illinois introduced a new $200 million program to help working families afford their first homes, and move to affordable housing developments near their places of work.
- Illinois has protected hundreds of thousands of workers from being stripped of their right to overtime pay by new federal regulations.
- Illinois is the most aggressive state in the nation in safeguarding over 300,000 day laborers across the state from abuses at the hands of unlawful day and temporary day labor agencies. The Governor signed legislation giving the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) stronger enforcement tools, including stiffer penalties against violators.
- Illinois has enacted legislation to broaden picketing rights for labor unions and other workers involved in labor disputes with their employers – allowing workers to picket, post temporary signs, park vehicles and set up tents on public rights without having to require a permit.
- Illinois has strengthened the Prevailing Wage Act by increasing penalties against contractors who unlawfully fail to pay construction workers the wages they have earned.
- Illinois has dramatically overhauled its worker’s compensation system for the first time in nearly 20 years to increase benefits for workers, reduce costs for businesses and fight fraud.
- Illinois is the third state in the nation to enact card check recognition of public employees.
- Illinois has expanded the rights of Illinois workers to join a union -- which has directly benefited thousands of home childcare workers, personal care assistants, graduate students and court reporters.