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A job listing with pay ranging from $50,000 to $180,000? Not in good faith, says NYC commission

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Tesla Inc. and News Corp. face some of the earliest regulatory enforcement actions under New York City’s closely watched pay transparency law.

The city alleges the businesses ignored the requirement to include salary ranges in job ads or posted such wide salary bands that they didn’t qualify as “good faith” estimates.

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights initiated complaints against nearly three dozen employers and third-party job posting sites including ZipRecruiter, Morgan & Morgan P.A., and Mazars USA LLP from October through December 2023, according to a commission webpage.

The city’s job ad transparency law, like those passed in six states including California, New York, and Washington, aim to combat racial and gender wage gaps by arming workers with more information when searching for positions and negotiating their salaries. The New York City complaints provide hints at the direction state and local agencies are headed with enforcement of the law.

The city human rights commission’s Dec. 4 complaint against Tesla Inc. noted at least four listings for New York City jobs without a pay range in June 2023, and four more that included ranges “not made in good faith,” such as an ad for a field service technician making anywhere between $22 and $58 per hour. Tesla also faced a citation but no financial penalty under Colorado’s pay transparency law in 2021.

The commission alleged that News Corp.—which owns The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets—posted at least four jobs in July 2023 with pay ranges that violated the law. Those included an education reporter job paying anywhere from $50,000 to $180,000 annually and a video journalist position paying $40,000 to $160,000, according to the complaint dated Dec. 4.

PODCAST: Pay Transparency Laws Are Coming, Ready or Not

“What really stood out to me were the violations for posting ranges that the commission determined were not made in good faith,” said Stacey A. Bastone, an attorney with Jackson Lewis P.C. in New York.

Since the city first passed its law in 2022, businesses have been wrestling with the best way to comply and many decided that advertising wide pay ranges was a good strategy, she said. That’s partly to give themselves flexibility to offer lower or higher salaries depending on candidates’ experience and qualifications, and also partly to assuage concerns about how current employees will react if they see advertised ranges that are too far out of sync with their own pay.

“It’s a signal to employers that if they are going to have broad ranges, they need to have a reason for that,” Bastone said. “They’re potentially ripe for citations.”

No NYC Fines Yet

Colorado was the first state to implement pay range disclosure requirements for job postings in 2021. Even as other jurisdictions followed, businesses across the country have largely avoided financial penalties under these laws so far.

Only Colorado has publicly disclosed any fines against employers for omitting salary ranges from their job postings. A handful of employers also are facing proposed class actions in Washington state, one of the few locations where plaintiffs have the right to sue privately over companies’ noncompliance.

The New York City human rights commission webpage shows about a third of the complaints filed between October and December have been closed, as of the latest update on Jan. 24. A commission spokesperson said those complaints already dismissed didn’t result in financial penalties. They declined to comment on the cases that remain open.

Each complaint seeks an order forcing the company to comply with the city’s pay transparency law going forward, with no mention of financial penalties or damages.

The commission can fine employers a maximum of $250,000 per violation, although the law guarantees first-time violators a chance to cure non-compliant job ads within 30 days and face no penalty.

The city law also authorizes workers to sue their current employer for violations but doesn’t let job seekers sue a prospective employer.

Third-Party Job Boards

In addition to targeting companies for their own job ads, the New York City commission filed complaints against online job board providers for posting other employers’ allegedly non-compliant ads, including ZipRecruiter as well as Monster Worldwide, which is a subsidiary of Randstad Holding NV.

The city’s pay transparency measure, which is part of its Human Rights Law, requires any “employment agency, employer, or employee or agent thereof” to include a pay range in job postings.

Employers had been waiting to see whether third-party job posting sites would face liability for hosting ads that are out of compliance with the law, according to Bastone.

The commission can “get more bang for their buck” by targeting third-party job boards, she said, as it will pressure them “to then put the pressure on their clients.”

Online job board Indeed—a part of Recruit Holdings Co. Ltd.—listed 58,655 jobs based in New York City as of July 7, and an unspecified number lacked a good-faith salary range, according to the commission’s complaint dated Nov. 15.

The company “does consistently provide estimated salary ranges based on similar jobs and user generated data when hirers fail to provide this information,” the commission noted in its complaint, but added that “estimate is not binding.”

The commission withdrew its complaint against Indeed “without prejudice” on Feb. 2 after the company provided more information about its pay transparency policy, Indeed spokesman David Fishman said by email.

“As part of Indeed’s policy, employers posting new NYC job ads through Indeed’s job posting funnel are required to include salary information, or to certify that the NYC law does not apply to their job ad,” he said.

The commission’s webpage shows complaints against Indeed, Monster, News Corp., Tesla, and ZipRecruiter were still open as of Jan. 24.

Complaints against the tax and accounting firm Mazars and the personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan have been closed, as well as a complaint against Bank of New York Mellon, according to the webpage.

BNY Mellon spokesperson Ryan Wells said the case against the bank was withdrawn in December. A Morgan & Morgan representative declined to comment. Mazars, Monster, News Corp., Tesla, and ZipRecruiter didn’t respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at cmarr@bloombergindustry.com.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloombergindustry.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com.



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