NYC Wrestles With Salary Disclosure in Job Ads

'I deserve to know how much I can make,' waitress says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 28, 2022 4:16 PM CDT
NYC Bill Uses Disclosure to Address Pay Inequity
Elizabeth Stone, a restaurant server, poses for a photo this month at the office of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a workers advocacy group, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

Help wanted. The job: putting one of the nation's most far-reaching salary disclosure laws into practice. Location: New York City. Just four months ago, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to require many ads for jobs in the city to include salary ranges, in the name of giving job applicants—particularly women and people of color—a better shot at fair pay. But on the cusp of implementing the measure, lawmakers will likely vote Thursday to postpone it for five months after employers waved red flags. The debate marks a prominent test for a burgeoning slate of US "pay transparency" laws. And the answer seems simple to Brooklyn restaurant server Elizabeth Stone.

"I believe I deserve to know how much I can make as a waitress," Stone said. She has scoured job ads that are mum about pay, leaving her wondering whether to try to move on from an employer she likes but wishes paid more, where she feels like she has no leverage to push for a raise. "You're put in a really challenging position of not wanting to upset your employer and not wanting to scare away an opportunity, but also wanting to fight for what you know is what you deserve," said Stone, 23, a member of restaurant workers advocacy group ROC United. Over the past four years, at least seven states and at least two other cities have started demanding employers disclose salary information to job-seekers in some circumstances.

That often means upon request or after an interview, and there are exemptions for small businesses. Colorado broke ground with a 2019 law requiring a pay range in all postings. New York City's measure is similar but applies only to employers with four or more workers. That amounts to about one-third of employers but roughly 90% of workers in the city, according to state statistics. The laws have been propelled by a gradually shrinking but persistent discrepancy: The median pay for full-time female workers was about 83% what men made in 2021, according to federal data. Whatever the specifics, salary transparency goes only so far, notes Sian Beilock, president of Barnard College. "Moving towards gender parity, in terms of the workplace, is a really important goal," but promotions, management responsibilities, and other aspects should be considered, she said. "I worry that focusing on salary misses a larger point."

(More pay discrimination stories.)

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