May Have Spoken Too Soon About Salary Transparency Efforts

Apropos to my post yesterday about New York City requiring employers to list their salary range starting next month, I was happy to Vu Le’s tweet about Washington State passing a similar law.

However, there was bit of a “maybe I spoke too soon..” moment at the end of the Seattle Times article which mentioned that the NYC law may be amended before it goes into effect. Sure enough, two days ago The City reported that amendments are being introduced which may create loopholes and delay implementation until November.

“While the amendments are being sold as innocuous tweaks, when you read them closely they would essentially undo much of [the new law],” said Seher Khawaja, senior counsel for Legal Momentum, a national advocacy group for girls and women. “We think it would really undermine the impact of the law by excluding a large sector of New York’s workforce from the protections.”

One of the people quoted in the article represents a business group in NYC. Her rationale for not publicizing salary ranges because it might lead to salary inflation sounds a little flimsy given that the salary and compensation packages of CEOs and others have continued out of proportion to that of the employees despite not being publicized.

Among the other concerns, she said larger businesses risk getting out-bid by competitors if they make their salary ceilings public. She said the public postings could also spark salary inflation during a hiring crunch when current workers see a maximum posted that’s much higher than what it’s been historically.

The article about the transparency law in Washington notes that it doesn’t go into effect for another 10 months. Given that NYC’s law is facing revision only about a month out from its implementation is a warning to advocates to remain vigilant until the rules go into effect.  The Seattle Times piece quoted a business professor at University of Washington who observed it may take years for the effects of a law to be seen because inequities accumulate over people’s careers. How effective a law is at eliminating those inequities will require observation of years.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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