‘Zero to $2 Million’: Corporations Respond to NYC’s Salary Transparency Law With Wild Ranges

One day into New York City's salary transparency law, some pay ranges have already taken people aback.
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Photo of Citi's pay range for a client service officer.

As of Tuesday, most New York City businesses are now legally required to include “good faith” salary ranges as part of any job posting, as part of a new law meant to increase transparency around how much jobs pay. 

Ahead of the law taking effect, questions swirled about how companies and employees alike would respond to the wealth of new information. One day in, the most obvious response has been companies stretching the definition of the term “good faith” to extremes. The financial services firm Citi, for example, was seeking out a client service officer it said it was willing to pay anywhere between nothing and $2 million annually.

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After Motherboard published this story, Citi reached out to say that the range was simply a result of “a technical issue that is causing some job postings to display a system default salary range instead of the correct range,” and the range was corrected to read $61,710.00 to $155,290.00.

To align with various pay-related laws, Citi started posting salary ranges as of mid-October, but now plans to review “all job postings to ensure the correct range is listed,” a spokesperson said.

While Citi’s range appeared particularly far-fetched, other salary bands have taken people aback already, including a reporter job at Barron’s that pays between $50,000 and $180,000 and a job heading up audio news at the Wall Street Journal that could earn a candidate anywhere from $140,000 to $450,000.  

“Salary range: Five roommates in Bushwick – Living solo in Williamsburg,” reporter Victoria Walker quipped.

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The law, which requires a minimum and a maximum salary, applies to businesses with more than four employees and covers New York City job postings for both full and part-time employees, as well as independent contractors, interns, and others. 

The Commission on Human Rights will investigate any complaints it receives, including anonymous ones, about businesses that don’t post salary ranges, and businesses that don’t comply with the law can be assessed a $250,000 fine. 

But the city is allowing a 30-day grace period after an initial violation, and the question will be what is ultimately accepted as a “good faith” range. (The city defines “good faith” in this context as “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).”)

New York City’s law follows similar legislation passed in states like Colorado and other jurisdictions in the tri-state area including Westchester County; Ithaca, New York;, and Jersey City, New Jersey. In the case of Colorado’s law, some companies responded by no longer considering remote applicants from the state. 

Unlike the Colorado law, New York City’s new legislation does not require bonuses and other compensation to be accounted for, which could theoretically explain Citi’s wide range. It’s also possible that the law will provide transparency to the fact that companies have long had wildly fluctuating amounts they are willing to pay people to perform the same job. 

Still, questions will continue to swirl, including inside the organizations themselves, something that some businesses have already prepared for, either by preparing to more regularly offer pay bumps or by providing managers with talking points to explain to current employees why salary ranges for new jobs are more than they make.

This post has been updated to include a response (and explanation) from Citi.