Know Your Rights: New NYC Law Requiring Salary Disclosures in Job Postings

By Shira Gelfand
A woman reading a cheque

After multiple amendments and months of delays, New York City’s Pay Transparency Act (NYC Local Law 32) will finally become effective on November 1, 2022. This law - which requires employers with more than four employees to publish the minimum and maximum pay range for any advertised position - is a welcome development for advancing the goal of pay equity, as applicants and current employees will have greater information about the salary ranges of similarly situated colleagues. Consequently, NYC job seekers will no longer fly blind when negotiating salary and compensation.

What the New Law Says

The law amends the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) by making it an unlawful discriminatory practice to advertise a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity without including in the advertisement the range of base salary (or wage) the employer believes, in good faith and at the time of the posting, it would pay for the advertised position. Note that the law does not require employers to publicize any other forms of compensation such as health insurance, severance pay, overtime pay, commissions, tips, bonuses, and stock.

This salary disclosure obligation applies to both full and part-time jobs. It covers postings for domestic workers, interns, and independent contractors, as well as remote positions that could be filled by candidates residing in New York City. The law defines “advertisement” broadly to include any written description of an available job, promotion, or transfer opportunity publicized to a pool of potential applicants, regardless of how the advertisement is disseminated. Examples of covered listings include internal bulletin board postings, internet advertisements, printed flyers distributed at job fairs, and newspaper advertisements.

New York City’s push for greater salary transparency is part of a growing national trend, as similar laws and ordinances are being passed or introduced in states and municipalities across the country. This includes New York State, where the legislature in June 2022 passed an amendment to the New York Labor Law that largely mirrors the requirements of the City’s transparency law. Governor Hochul is expected to sign the bill, which would go into effect 270 days after she signs it into law.

How You Can Use Greater Salary Transparency to Advocate for Pay Equity

Greater salary transparency is just one aspect of a growing push for pay equity for employees. Laws like this, along with other equal pay laws, help ensure that employers pay all their workers equally for equal work. While legislation plays a critical and meaningful role in eliminating pay inequality, job applicants also can be part of the effort by using pay transparency laws to better advocate for themselves when seeking, interviewing for, and negotiating compensation for a new position. Similarly, current employees can use the salary information shared by their employer and others to learn whether their employer is compensating them fairly and in line with similarly situated colleagues.

Whether you are looking for work in New York or interested in learning whether your employer is treating you equitably regarding compensation, keep these things in mind:

1. You are not required to disclose your salary history.

Job seekers may not want to share salary history during the application process, if they believe a prospective employer could use it to justify a lowball offer or remove a candidate from consideration. Fortunately, both New York City and New York State laws prohibit employers from asking applicants (and current employees) for their salary histories or requiring applicants to disclose prior pay.

New York Labor Law Section 194-a, for example, prohibits an employer from seeking an applicant’s or current employee’s wage or salary history or using that history to determine what salary to offer or “as a condition to be interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, or as a condition of employment or promotion.”

While asking about salary history is off-limits, an employee may choose to volunteer the information, and employers can ask about salary expectations. Although you don’t have to share your salary history with an employer, you are free to do so with colleagues or others and under New York law, an employer can’t prohibit you from discussing your compensation with co-workers and colleagues.

2. Don’t hesitate to negotiate.

The practices that have led to significant pay disparities between white and male employees and women and people of color include unfair treatment in the salary negotiation process. For example, one study concluded that “Black job seekers are expected to negotiate less than their White counterparts and are penalized in negotiations with lower salary outcomes when this expectation is violated.”

Individually and collectively, applicants and employees can help narrow this pay gap by using now-available salary information to support their negotiations for higher compensation.

Additionally, with this new change in the law, current employees have a way to learn if they are being paid below market or less than other employees performing equal or similar work, and they can use that information to request a compensation adjustment.

3. You Should Not Be Punished for Discussing or Challenging Your Pay

If your employer punishes you for discussing your pay or raising complaints of unequal pay, their actions may infringe upon your rights. If your employer fires you or otherwise terminates your employment, or retaliates against you in any other way, you should contact an attorney to discuss your situation.

At Outten & Golden, we are committed to making pay disparity in gender, race, and other protected classes a thing of the past. If you have questions about New York City’s Pay Transparency Act or have concerns about wage discrimination or unequal pay, please contact the firm through the ”Contact Us" form or by calling us in the New York, San Francisco or Washington, DC office (see bottom of page for phone numbers) to begin the Outten & Golden intake process.