Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You have 180 days

Let's say you're female.

Let's say you start a new job at the same time as a male colleague. You both have the same amount of education and same experience. Slowly, you become friends. You discuss kids or weekend plans or bowling, but not salaries, maybe because you're being polite, maybe because there's a corporate policy against it. And then, after six months, you find out that your male colleague earns more. A lot more.

Too bad.

The Supreme Court just ruled in Ledbetter v. Goodyear that you have 180 days to figure out if there is a pay disparity or if discrimination occurred. That's it. If more than 180 days pass, too bad.

In this case, Ms. Ledbetter was hired at the same salary as male colleagues, but she consistently received smaller raises. By the time she brought the lawsuit against her employer, Goodyear, her salary was 40% less than the lowest paid male of similar rank.

Perhaps she was just a terrible worker?

Right.

That was sarcasm.

Part of the problem with wage inequities is that we don't talk about money at work (or at home, for many of us). So we have no idea what our coworkers earn. Starting a Wage Club is one way to work on the wage disparity. I've certainly found that most of the time, it is in your best interest to find ways to talk (discreetly) about money. It is almost always in your employer's best interest for you to remain silent.