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Data Show Employers Get Pay Transparency Wiggle Room


November 30, 2023

Pay transparency compliance data from Colorado, Washington State, and New York City reveal how government agencies are prioritizing giving employers a second chance before wielding penalties, while also managing the challenge of counting on vulnerable job applicants for tips, attorneys say.

Laws requiring the disclosure of compensation ranges and even benefits in job postings have proliferated across the country. Law360 obtained data from the Big Apple, Colorado, and Washington to get an inside look into how these new laws are starting to play out.

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Pay transparency requirements are straightforward, and employers shouldn’t require “an engraved invitation” to comply, said Christine Webber, a partner of worker-side firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and co-chair of its civil rights and employment practice.

“But it is certainly encouraging to see that Colorado seems to be … getting voluntary compliance and actually handing out penalties in the cases … where they didn’t get quick compliance,” she said. “They were willing to enforce and impose penalties.”

Washington’s pay transparency law similarly requires postings to contain pay ranges, details on benefits and information about other compensation, such as stock options. The law took effect in January.

Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 10, Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries has received 323 complaints of pay transparency violations, but of those 273 had to be treated as tips.

A spokesperson for the department said it can’t accept complaints if they don’t have enough information to reach out to the worker or employer, if they are filed anonymously or if the worker did not apply for the job at issue.

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The number of anonymous complaints might suggest many are afraid to have their names attached to a complaint against a company they’re seeking employment from, Webber said.

“Which again, goes to the importance of … state and local in the case of New York [City] being willing to be real proactive about enforcement,” she said. “Because I think somebody applying for a job is the most vulnerable in terms of feeling like any little thing they do could mean they don’t get the job.”

New York City’s pay transparency law, which went into effect in November 2022, requires covered employers to include a “good faith” pay range in job advertisements.

Read Data Show Employers Get Pay Transparency Wiggle Room.