Why Corporations Won’t Hire Remote Workers in Colorado

In response to a Colorado state law that requires employers post salary ranges in job postings, companies are simply refusing to consider applicants from the state.
May 26, 2021, 1:00pm
Why Corporations Won’t Hire Any Remote Workers in Colorado
Found Image Holdings Inc / Contributor
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Companies are excluding Coloradans from consideration for remote work positions, seemingly in an effort to avoid compliance with a state law aimed at increasing transparency around pay inequities.

For example, at Insperity―an outsourcing firm that provides human resources services―one job states “Must be capable of working remotely from the Central / Midwestern U.S. This role cannot be performed in Colorado.” The language was replicated across a host of other job postings by companies, such as RapidSOS where openings for a Global Accounts Director, Senior Growth Marketing Manager, Marketing Manager, and Customer Success Manager all added the simple phrase near the end. 

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Job listings all over the country explain that positions at, for example, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, alcohol delivery app Drizly (recently acquired by Uber), Unite Us, Stride K12, call center company Concentrix, Contrast Security, and more are intended to be worked remotely. From anywhere, it seems, except Colorado.

“Work location is flexible if approved by the Company except that the position may not be performed remotely from Colorado,” the Johnson & Johnson job listing reads. “IBM intends this job to be performed entirely outside of Colorado,” an IBM listing states. A Drizly job listing explains that it is an equal opportunity employer but that “this role can be performed remotely anywhere in the United States with the exception of Colorado.”

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Some of these companies, like Drizly, have set up separate job listings for Colorado specifically; others have not.

Why is this happening? Seemingly because of job listing requirements tied to  the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a Colorado law signed in 2019 but that went into effect at the start of this year, in part requires all employers to immediately notify current employees of "promotional opportunities," provide a salary range and description of benefits on a job listing, as well as maintain records of job descriptions and compensation history for every employee. As part of this, regulators in Colorado decided that “An employer is required to ‘disclose in each posting for each job the hourly or salary compensation, or a range of hourly or the salary compensation, and a general description of all of the benefits and other compensation to be offered to the hired applicant.’” They also instituted rules about notifying current employees about promotion opportunities as part of new job postings. 

To get around this, companies are listing in job postings for remote positions that applications are open to everyone except anyone in Colorado. Others have set up separate job listings for Colorado: “Drizly has not only complied with, but has exceeded the requirements of the mandates that Colorado made effective earlier this year by posting job offers for remote positions twice: once specifically for Colorado, and the other for all other locations within the United States. Doing so requires considerable additional time and effort. However, we believe that this approach best allows us to avoid confusion for candidates outside of CO, and ensure that Coloradans have the same opportunities as everyone else to learn about and apply for remote work positions at Drizly.”

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A Reddit post on Friday first pointed to Digital Ocean, a cloud infrastructure company with job advertisement explaining that Colorado was being excluded "due to local CO job posting requirements” and resulted in an investigation by 9Wants to Know that found at least 10 firms avoiding compliance with Colorado’s pay equity law. Digital Ocean has since quietly removed the qualifier but still refuses to include a salary range which puts them in violation of the state law.

RapidSOS is another firm that has since changed language in the job posting to state they are "working on becoming compliant with new regulations in Colorado" so until then, "this role cannot be performed in Colorado." 

Sponsors of the law did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. Various companies advertising job openings everywhere except Colorado did not respond to requests for comment.

Some companies, however, have gotten creative in their job listings. 

Nike has not only kept the language, with at least 9 postings making it clear the position cannot be performed in Colorado, but gone so far as to add that “Colorado candidates will be required to relocate.”

Oracle has tried to both avoid compliance and comply by setting up an email address (oracle-salary-inquiriers_us@oracle.com) "to receive compensation and benefits information about this role." Again, the law requires that the job posting provide a range and description of benefits, not that you provide another place for applicants to learn about it.

Companies are showing, then, that they would rather rule out job candidates from an entire state rather than comply with a law intended to close pay gaps and increase transparency about pay and benefits.