Thursday, July 17, 2008

Compensation Discrimination - Part 2

When the EEOC is investigating compensation discrimination, they look at a few things that you can examine yourself.

1) What are similarly situated employees (same job, job classification, job level, etc.) being paid? Can you show that your White counterparts are making more money than you?

2) Can your employer reasonably defend the difference in pay status for similar employees? Is there a legitimate non-race related reason for the pay discrepancy being offered by your employer?

3) What do statistics show? This may be hard for an employee to figure out on their own, unless they have access to pay information. However, an investigator may look at statistics related to pay by going through payroll data at your company.

Statistics allows one to determine whether differences between a protected class target group and a comparison group are "statistically significant," i.e., whether the difference could not be expected to have occurred by chance. This differs from the basic comparison of raw numbers or percentages, which is known as descriptive statistics.

Other things to consider with pay discrimination are that employers have long played the education game to explain pay discrepancies. For instance, a White new hire with a college degree and no experience in the field may make $10,000 or more than a Black worker with no degree, but many years of hands-on expertise in the field. Even though the White worker may not be able to perform their job without training and assistance from the non-degreed Black worker, they may make significantly more money. This may or may not be legitimate depending on the nature of the job and the minimum qualifications required for the position.

In fact, minimum objective qualifications, such as specialized licenses or certifications should and can be taken into account. But, the EEOC says that persons in jobs requiring certain minimum objective qualifications should not be grouped together with persons in jobs that do not require those qualifications, even though the jobs otherwise are similar. In other words, employees in similar jobs can’t necessarily be grouped together or divided based on education, licenses, etc. It all depends on the minimum qualifications for those jobs.

While differences in qualifications, experience, and education ultimately may explain a pay differential, it’s not automatic that these are reasons that fully address salary differences. These factors may just be a pretext or cover story to conceal the true motive for pay discrepancies, race-related discrimination.

You can take a look at the first two areas (what are people making in the same or similar jobs and what are your employer's reasons for salary differences) and then see if you are on to something regarding potential pay discrimination.

If you have identified a potential issue, you can talk to your HR department for a detailed explanation of pay differences or you can speak to your supervisor, manager or the director of your department.

You have a right to know why you are making less money than other employees. If a group of Black employees is making less than White employees, who are doing the same job, then that is a legitimate area of concern that should be addressed.

If you ask questions and become subjected to a hostile work environment for rocking the boat (regarding salary), you can contact an agency like EEOC for assistance or you can seek legal counsel to protect yourself and to resolve the issue.


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