Did your employer deny you a raise but not your male coworker?

| Jan 14, 2021 | Employment law

Companies have an obligation to pay workers fairly based on their education, experience and job performance, not protected characteristics like their sex or race. Fair pay laws apply to workplaces with even one employee, so company size has no influence on the rights of workers.

Unfortunately, some of the systems used by businesses still favor one sex over the other or one race over others. When it comes to compensation negotiations, women seem to be at a significant disadvantage. Despite their hard work on the job, female professionals may struggle to close the wage gap between them and their male co-workers.

If you recently requested a raise but didn’t get it, you probably feel disappointed. If a male co-worker in a similar position with similar or worse job performance when compared to yours secured a raise, you might feel angry. Did your employer violate employment law by making a gender-based compensation decision? 

Research shows that men are more likely to receive a raise than women

For years, cultural stereotypes dominated the conversation about why men earn more than women. The idea that men are more aggressive and therefore more likely to ask for a raise or negotiate strongly for one has often been used to justify paying male workers more than comparable female employees. Others have claimed that women just don’t follow better-paid career paths.

Research, however, shows that women work in many fields but still make less than men in similar roles. Professional women ask for raises at a similar rate as their male counterparts. Unfortunately, the men are just more likely to receive those raises. Data analysis published by the Harvard Business Review estimates that men are roughly 5% more likely to get the raises they ask for than women are.

Biased pay policies violate your employment rights

There are federal laws that establish the right of women to make equitable wages. Employers have an obligation to pay all workers fairly. When they make decisions about the initial salary they offer someone or the raises they approve based on sex rather than on performance or work history, they violate the rights of their workers and break federal law.

Standing up for yourself can not only get you back some of those lost wages but can also help even the playing field for female workers at the company after you.