As a female professional, you are likely acutely aware of how hard it can be to break into the top professions in your industry. You may face mistreatment from your coworkers or dismissive attitudes from employers and prospective clients all because of your sex.
Even when you secure a job, you still have to worry about your employer discriminating against you. One of the most common forms of sex discrimination in the workplace involves unequal compensation. Simply put, companies pay male workers more than female workers with the same background, skills and education.
There are two common tactics employers utilize when trying to cover up the fact that they pay their male workers more than their female ones.
They have a policy against discussing your wages
Federal law protects your right to organize with other workers. That includes the right to discuss your wages. After all, if you can’t ask your coworker what they make, you will never be able to conclusively determine if your employer pays everyone in your department the same or pay some people more than others without any real justification for doing so. A policy against talking about your wages is unenforceable and should not deter you from learning the truth.
They blame it on negotiations
It is common for managers and Human Resources professionals to try to blame the wage gap in their company on the female workers rather than the business. One common claim is that men are more assertive when asking for raises and tend to perform better during negotiations. Such blanket statements paint workers with too broad a brush, and they also excuse the company for basing its wages on people’s personalities rather than on their job performance.
Someone assertively demanding more in wages won’t necessarily do a better job than a more reserved coworker. Especially if you face disciplinary action for asking others about their wages or have gotten excuses from management about why you don’t receive the same pay as others, you may be in a position to take legal action against your employer.
Recognizing red flags of likely wage inequality can help you determine if you are in a position to bring a wage claim against your employer for their sexist policies.