Would you apply for a job with an advertised salary cap of $2 million dollars? What about a job with a potential base pay of $0.00? What if I told you that, apparently, they’re the same job.
That’s right, Citi bank is hiring a New York, New York-based “client service officer” and for at least a few hours on Tuesday, the role was advertised as either entirely unpaid or as coming with enough compensation to instantly catapult oneself into the mythic one percent. Based on the listing, it was impossible to know.
The listing has since been updated. A Citi spokesperson attributed the initial $2 million pay range to a technical issue and sent Gizmodo the following statement in an email:
Citi has displayed salary ranges on all U.S. job postings as of mid-October. This effort aligns with legislative requirements in some U.S. markets but goes beyond those requirements to ensure consistency and transparency across the country. We recently became aware of a technical issue that is causing some job postings to display a system default salary range instead of the correct range. We are proactively mitigating this issue by reviewing all job postings to ensure the correct range is listed.
But even with the corrected numbers on the client service officer job posting, something doesn’t quite add up. For performing the same job, under the same description, in the same city, two different people could apparently be paid $59,340 and $149,320 respectively.
On Tuesday, New York City’s much-anticipated pay transparency law went into effect. The legislation, officially titled “Salary Transparency in Job Advertisements,” requires companies to post a “good faith salary range” along with any open position notice. Where good faith means “the salary range the employer honestly believes at the time they are listing the job advertisement that they are willing to pay the successful applicant(s).” The rule applies uniformly to both internal postings and to public digital platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed.
Many companies began including pay ranges in their job listings ahead of the official law’s start date. Yet others took a...different approach. Citigroup was just one of multiple employers to apparently stretch their interpretations of “good faith.”
As Victoria Walker, a freelance travel reporter, first pointed out on Twitter many job listings based in New York City now come with absurdly wide salary ranges included in the postings. One listing for a tech reporter opening at the New York Post offers somewhere between $50,000 and nearly 3x that amount. Another general assignment role also at the NY Post advertises pays somewhere between $15/hour and $125,000/year.
Similarly, If you want to be a photo editor at Discovery Inc., you could be paid anywhere from $67,991 and $126,269. A listing from the Wall Street Journal included a range spanning $140,000 to $450,000. A Barron’s reporter might make $50,000 or $180,000.
Outside of journalism, other businesses also seem to be playing fast and loose with the new requirement. A front desk worker at a dental practice in Brooklyn might make $45,000, or nearly double that. A scheduler at a surgery center might start at $36,980, or 66% more than that. A personal shopper at Bloomingdales could make between $48,672 and $84,864. You get the idea.
For all of these jobs, there is a chance those advertised ranges truly reflects the breadth of pay for current employees in those positions. And if that’s the case, clearly there are issues of parity at play. But that’s a rather generous interpretation of corporate shenanigans.
Then, there are some listings that haven’t attempted to comply with the law at all. Like this one from Paramount that show no salary range, even though it was posted in the last 24 hours.
The whole point of pay transparency is for job applicants to be able to make informed decisions about where to focus their attention and for corporations to be accountable to public opinion and their employees. Plus salary transparency has the potential to bring wider positive change, like reductions in the gender and race pay gaps. The new law is inarguably a good thing for workers and job seekers. But if companies fail to take it seriously, we all lose out—businesses included.
If you come across a job listing advertising a suspicious range, you can file a complaint with NYC’s Commission on Human Rights by calling (212) 416-0197 or by visiting NYC.gov/HumanRights. Companies found to be in violation of the newly active law are subject to fines from the city and other penalties.
Update 11/2/2022, 12:13 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with comment from Citigroup.