What NYC’s Pay Transparency Law and Its Delayed Implementation Mean

By Peter J. Glennon June 20, 2022
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New York City skyline

​Despite delays and uncertainty about its implementation, one thing is for certain about New York City's new pay transparency law: A lot of lawyers are going to get paid exploring it and its fluid, dynamic nature.

Earlier this year, the city enacted a law that requires employers to list the salary range in any job advertisement. Then, just as the law was about to go into effect in May, the city delayed its implementation to November with new amendments. This delay was implemented in part to allow both advocates of the law and those with concerns to continue discussing how this law can work in practice. 

The reason? The original version of the law left some terms undefined—including key ones for a law like this, such as "advertising" and "salary"—and the law was unclear on how hourly workers would be affected.

The May amendment signed by Mayor Eric Adams clarifies a few issues. There is now no financial penalty for a first violation if the employer resolves it within 30 days. And the law now specifically applies only to jobs that are performed at least in part within the city.

It's likely that the mayor will sign another amendment to the law before it goes into effect in November, as both pay transparency advocates and business interests are poring over the mechanics of how the law will work.

Colorado enacted an even more expansive law in 2021, and states like California and Washington now require employers provide salary information to any job applicant who requests it. More jurisdictions are seeking to enact some variation of pay transparency—and they are all addressing the various challenges to balance realistic concerns with their intents.

But the New York City law is being watched particularly closely, so this may be a moment where the pay transparency trend really takes off.

What You Need to Know About the NYC Law

So, what do employers need to know? First, the New York City law currently has a broad scope. Employers with four or more workers—including the owners themselves—are all covered by the law. If you're hiring one or more domestic workers, those jobs are covered too.

The four workers don't all need to be in New York City, either. If just one position is based in the Big Apple, the employer is covered. That includes full-time and part-time jobs and deskbound workers.

Employment agencies are also obligated under the law for any job listings they pass along.

Interestingly, the law also has a broad definition of advertising.

Any announcement of a job, promotion or opportunity to transfer is covered, regardless of the medium, as long as the job will be in New York City.

That means everything: internal e-mail groups, ads on LinkedIn or Indeed, classified ads in print, postings on internal bulletin boards, and even printed flyers that are handed out at a job fair are considered advertising.

Basically, if you're telling anyone about this job, you're going to need to note the anticipated salary range.

Specific Requirements for the Salary Range

The salary range has some specific requirements. First, you'll need to include a minimum and a maximum, so phrases like "$15 an hour and up" aren't going to pass muster. On the other hand, if the salary is set and there's no range, it's OK to just say the exact pay.

The law defines salary narrowly. The only thing you'll need to include in an advertisement is the pay, stated either in hourly or annual rates.

All other forms of compensation, including health insurance, overtime, commissions and bonuses, are not included in the salary definition, although if you want to advertise those as well, you can. In the case of jobs that are heavily dependent on commissions, you're probably going to want to include that information anyway.

The law also requires that this salary range be offered in "good faith," meaning that it is what the employer honestly believes they are willing to pay at the time they place the advertisement. However, nothing in the law states that an employer must pay someone within a stated range.

Even if additional details are ironed out before the law goes into effect in November, there will likely be some parts that employers simply won't know how to address until they are regularly posting salary ranges and there are test cases before the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Peter J. Glennon founded The Glennon Law Firm PC in 2014, a Rochester, N.Y.-based litigation practice focusing on serving clients throughout New York state.

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