CO remote workers need not apply: Companies avoid it due to salary-posting law

CO remote workers need not apply: Companies avoid it due to salary-posting law

To state Sen. Jessie Danielson, it’s just “shameful.”

Companies large and small have been barring workers in Colorado from applying for remote work positions in what appear to be efforts to bypass a state law mandating companies provide salary ranges when posting job openings in the state.

“This is a remote job except that it is not eligible to be performed in Colorado,” a listing for an account manager position with short-term vacation rental giant Airbnb says.

“We are seeking applicants from the Boston area and from any state except Colorado,” reads another recent job listing, this one from Denver-based tech education and shared office space provider Galvanize.

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act took effect Jan. 1. The purpose of the legislation is to combat gender-based pay gaps in the workplace, in part by providing workers with hard numbers about who is making what for the work they are doing.

“The companies that are fighting to avoid this pay transparency are simply working very hard to avoid this Colorado law so they can continue to underpay women,” said Danielson, one of the bill’s four primary sponsors.

An Airbnb representative did not return an email seeking comment Thursday. A Galvanize spokesperson provided the following statement from the company:

“That posting verbiage was an error. The job is actually a Boston-based role and therefore the candidate would need to be physically in the office.”

When it comes to future job postings for remote work, Galvanize’s policy is under review, the spokesperson said.

Danielson’s strong criticism comes after a Reddit post last month slammed the Colorado shunning practice and urged naming and shaming companies that are doing it in their listings.

That thread helped inspire Aaron Batilo, a software engineer who lives in Commerce City, to launch a website dedicated to cataloging such postings. As of Thursday afternoon, had links to 193 job listings for remote work positions from 98 companies.

Batilo has been a remote worker since before the COVID-19 pandemic, something that has afforded him better pay from companies based in Seattle and the San Francisco area. He noted worker demand for remote positions is reaching new heights in the wake of the virus.

“I do think it is kind of taking advantage of the opportunity because you might have someone living in a lower cost of living state and you might be expecting to pay them less,” Batilo said of companies leaving salary ranges off their online postings. “I am personally of the opinion that with remote work you should not do location-based pay.”

Increased awareness has boosted the number of listings pouring into Batilo’s submission-based site. 9News first covered the job posting practice in late May, speaking to Batilo. He was also featured in a Wall Street Journal story last week. At the time his site featured listings from 46 companies.

“These companies are already aware of their salary range. They already have a budget. I would prefer that they would share that,” Batilo said.

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act does outline penalties for companies that don’t share salary ranges or violate the law in other ways, such as by not notifying all of their employees about internal job openings.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has a complaint form that can be accessed online. Companies found to be in violation can be fined $500 to $10,000 per offense.

The labor department has one active investigation into a company accused of excluding Coloradans from remote job openings, said Scott Moss, the director of the labor department’s division of labor standards and statistics. A decision is expected to be issued in that case shortly.

The department has fielded dozens of additional complaints but none of those have risen to the level of a full investigation yet. With a relatively new law, the department’s approach is to focus on educating employers first before resorting to fines. An employer-focused fact sheet is available at

“Where we have found a violation, we give the employer a period to bring the posting into compliance and if they do we waive the fine,” Moss said. “We have a 100% success rate when finding a violation of the company promptly fixing it.”

Moss emphasizes that despite the media attention, the labor department’s internal research shows that remote work ads barring Colorado applicants are relatively rare. After tracking a random sample of 203 job posts on Indeed, covering both companies based in Colorado and those headquartered outside the state, the department found just one using language barring Colorado applicants.

Moss said that among the 50 largest employers in the state, compliance has been impressive and improved every month so far in 2021.

The labor department’s powers have limits. Companies with no physical presence in Colorado — meaning no employees currently working in the state — aren’t subject to the law, Moss said. With that in mind, listings that bar Colorado applicants are “puzzling and self-defeating,” Moss said.

“They are just undercutting their own talent base to their own detriment by excluding a high-skill labor force state,” he said.

For Oisin Hanrahan, CEO of Denver-based home services marketplace company Angi, combating the gender pay gap has been and remains an important goal. The idea of writing job posting to specifically exclude Colorado workers in an effort to obscure pay data is something he said his company would never do. Angi has roughly 4,500 employees across the country, including 1,600 in Colorado. The company is giving many of its employees the option to work remotely even after it reopens offices.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that this measure has essentially got some pretty poor unintended consequences, and I think it’s a poor workaround by companies that are deciding that’s the approach they want to take,” Hanrahan said. “I think the more we can do to shine a light on areas where we have a problem, the more likely it is that we’ll fix that.”

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act has already overcome a legal challenge from the Rocky Mountain Association of Recruiters, Danielson noted. She maintains that the law does not constitute an undue burden on employers, and, in fact, she has heard from companies that say that listing salary ranges is helping them attract better-qualified candidates.

“The public was demanding and still is demanding that the legislature in Colorado do everything possible to stop discriminatory practices that lead to gender gaps in pay,” she said. “I’m open to ideas on working with the (labor) department) on more options for enforcement.”

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