What Would You Do

September 9, 2008

The scenario:  You are the senior employee in an office (and, in fact, manage that office).  You discover that a more recently hired secretary with fewer responsibilities (not to mention far less initiative and ability) is being paid three dollars an hour more than you.

The question:  Would you approach your employer with this information?

Song of the Day:  It’s Not Fair by Kate Havnevik


18 Responses to “What Would You Do”

  1. Yes, but I’d have another job lined up.

  2. LA said

    Ditto what Mary said. ~LA

  3. Kathy said

    Definitely. I’d ask for 3 dollars an hour more than she’s making, if that’s the going rate of highest paid secretary in the office. And a person’s the office manager.

    “It’s come to my attention that so and so is making 3 dollars more than myself. Given my responsibilities and capabilities, I believe it would be fair that I made more than she did.”

    Something like that. Well, really, being who I am and working where I work, it’d probably go more like this:

    “Hey! How come the new gal is making more than me? I do way more than she does! I suggest you give me 3 bucks more an hour than her or I’m going to lunch and never coming back” and then I’d cry and go home. But that’s just me.

  4. Add me to that list too…I’ve been told at most places I have worked not to discuss salaries with other employees. It sucks…but I would make sure I had something else lined up before I brought it up to the boss just in case.

  5. Jim said

    Yes… but keep in mind what Mary and LA and Texas Peach said.

    I was working for a university as a programmer/analyst when the student newspaper won a freedom-of-information lawsuit over salary information and published an issue containing a list of all professional (i.e., anyone not civil service) employees. Their interest was in showing what they considered unfair faculty salary differences but professional employees included the non-teaching professionals such as programmers. I discovered that a programmer I was training in more advanced techniques in areas where he had no experience and who had only half the experience I had was making about 15% more per year than I was. I brought this issue up with management and was told that the problem was that I had started at too low a salary and there was no way they could increase my salary without being “unfair” to others. After years of high annual review scores, my next review gave me poor ratings and contained quotes taken from surveys of the departments I supported saying things like that they got very nervous when deadlines approached on projects I was doing. I felt as if I had been stabbed in the back. I had always thought I had a good relationship with my users. Although I had enjoyed the job up until then I was not going to put up with that and poor pay on top of it, so I left to take a systems analyst job in aerospace manufacturing, better money but a long commute, got a promotion in a year with much better money, then after another year got an offer from a much closer aerospace company for even more money, so that in about two and a half years after leaving the university I was making something like 35 or 40% more.

    And the kicker was, on my last day at the university I invoked my right to see the full contents of my personnel folder and found the original surveys that had come in from the departments I supported and found that the quotes in my annual review had been taken out of context, that the comment “We always get nervous as deadlines approach” was actually from a statement that said something like “We always get nervous as deadlines approach but Jim tells us not to worry and he is right. He always delivers exactly what he has promised right on time every time.” and went on to say how good my work was and how much they depended on me. So be prepared — they might say “oh, dear, you’re right, you are underpaid and we will fix that next budget cycle” or they might not… and, if not, they may then start looking for things to use against you.

  6. Carol said

    I would ask.

  7. goatbarnwitch said

    I too would mention it but make sure I had myself covered if I needed to walk

  8. Stefani said

    I hate to say it but that’s the way of the world. She obviously negotiated herself a better deal. (Unless it’s not like that in schools. Are you both civil servants? Are there structured pay grades in place?)

    There was a woman in the company I work for who started as a dept manager, able to work 35 hours/week and started with 3 weeks vacation, something the rest of us had to work 5 years to get. There was a bunch of grumbling behind her back, but I thought, “You go, girl!” I admired her and set out to get to know her. We became friends.

    I’m not sure my story has anything to do with your situation. But I bet if you were to go work somewhere else, chances are good that you would start at a higher salary than someone already in place.

    I had an employee reporting to me who was “grandfathered” in to our company a few years ago, who is still making signficantly more than I am. She is an excellent employee which makes it a little easier to swallow.

    Sometimes, this is just how it works.

  9. I would approach it with just asking for a review sooner than your normal time of year. I would be prepared to give examples to show all the work I do and what I do that is over and above the requirements. I would bring up the fact of my seniority and maybe even get other dept. heads to back me up with comments on my help. I don’t think I would say I know this other person is making more than I am making. This way you are only asking for a review of your abilities and the courtesy of a merit raise…not complaining about someone else….

  10. Michael said

    What would I do? I’m pretty sure I would seethe silently, and it would affect my work to the point that eventually I’d actually deserve to be paid less than the other person. But that’s just me.

  11. Joan said

    Oh hell yes…but in a professional, nice way.

  12. LeAnn said

    Hello from Tucson. I’ll blog about it when I get home. I agree with what Mary and LA said. Employers can do whatever they want so they obviously don’t care that the efficient employee is getting less pay than the new lazy employee. So if the person approaches them, they could end up getting at the least blown off and at the worst fired. But I suppose there is a remote possibility that the employer could do the right thing and give the person a pay increase but I’d be shocked. If that happens, I want to know!! Good bye from Tucson.

  13. debbie said

    feeling kicked in the teeth ? who could blame you ? why you recieve the shoddy treatment that you do is beyond me, i guess thats what you get for being loyal these days. that job has caused you more grief and consternation than my marriage and neither of us are getting a raise out of any of it, lol. it must suck to be us. oh, the funsies, eh ? wishing you the best on somehow getting yourself what you deserve and heres hoping that you will soon be recieving what is only fair and appropriate to the messy, sticky, problem plagued situation.

  14. Sasha said

    Yes, you should ask but as the other said, have something else lined up just in case. I remember once I had a job and I found out I was making a dollar more an hour than my fellow workers who had been there longer. Someone told me it was because I had a B.A., which totally puzzled me because I took the job as a second “seasonal” job and it had nothing to to do with my B.A.. That seemed quite unfair to me because I wasn’t even working a register as they were, I was just doing customer service. *shrug* You deserve better in my opinion, Stephanie.

  15. Sunday said

    Pardonnez-moi for cussin’, but fuck yeah! It’s not like MY case, where I’m not a secretary, have no secretarial training (meaning I didn’t go to secretarial school).

    But then again, what’s her educational background? I’m kinda pissed because there’s no where for me to go but stagnate–my degree, the fact that I’ve played shitloads of piano programs means nothing for a SECRETARY! And hell, I’m not even a secretary, I’m a damn clerk. My god! What the hell have I been doing with my life?! I almost died, and THIS is what I’m doing?

    Okay, my rant is over–have something else lined up just in case, like others have said, because this very same thing came up at the college I work in. All my damn education don’t amount to a hill o’ shit–they wanted me to go to these fucking workshops and network and shit. GUH? I do network–it’s just the damn head of the department never sees it, never says anything UNLESS I MAKE A POINT TO LOOK HER IN HER DAMN EYES AND SPEAK TO HER FIRST,etc. I’m still sure she feels that I’m part of the old regime and I remember when the department was run as it should’ve been, not this namby-pamby bullshit that’s going on now. Professors don’t need workshops on teaching, they need to get their asses on in there and teach! Same goes for secretaries. What in the hell am I going to learn? A year and a half from now, I won’t even be here (either I’ll be dead ;-)), or I’ll be on to bigger and better things.

    You know, I just realized this rant was all about me. Can you ask your superior WHY the new worker’s getting more money? Is it her schooling? Did she graduate from the Juiliard of whatever she does? I know that’s how it works for professors here–maybe I’d get paid more if I knew shorthand AND Dictaphone.

    Sorry for the long rant–it’s a Saturday morning, I’m watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (which could be a reason why I’m stuck in the same job), and I’m bored as hell. You deserve $10 more than this new woman. Put on your Wonder Woman Underroos and go get what you deserve!

  16. Sunday said

    Also, make sure you’re not taking any medicine that may make you angry. I remember once I threatened to throw a woman through a window when she was giving me hell about why it took so long for certain classes to be offered.

  17. Sunshyn said

    What Michael said. The more resentful I get, the less valuable I become.

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