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Illustration by Cinders McLeod (Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail/Illustration by Cinders McLeod)
Illustration by Cinders McLeod (Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail/Illustration by Cinders McLeod)

NINE TO FIVE

My co-worker dates the boss and gets paid more than me Add to ...

The Question

I currently work in a team where my manager is in a relationship with one of his subordinates, who is also on my team. They did come as a package deal and my boss, who is above my manager, told us to keep it quiet. But with our company, I wouldn't put it past human resources knowing, too, and turning a blind eye. I really like working with both of them and they are good people who don’t act particularly like a couple, but the conflict of interest is a big deal. One point of contention is that my salary is way below the person who is dating the manager (I found out accidentally) even though I have more education, just as much experience and am just as good – if not better – in our same roles. I find this really unjust. I've gone to my manager’s boss to ask for a raise to no avail. I feel like my only option is to leave the company, even though I love the people I work with and I am comfortable here. What do you think?

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The First Answer

Greg Conner

HR vice-president at HP Advanced Solutions

Yikes! You are certainly caught in a sensitive situation.

I encourage you to escalate the matter, as no one in your shoes would be happy with the status quo as you describe it. First, take your concerns to your human resources department and ask for their advice and assistance. HR has a professional responsibility to ensure employees are treated fairly. I would suggest you remain dispassionate and avoid any reference to the relationship in question, rather focus on factual information such as your work performance, education, experience and salary. Request that you receive more equitable compensation, similar to the other person performing the same role. If HR turns a blind eye, as you suggest they may, then shame on them. You then must take it to the next level of management and include copies to your manager’s boss and HR. Companies that recognize the value in individual performance (those that are interested in surviving) will maintain equitable practices as a means of retaining talented, productive employees. If after taking these steps nothing changes, ask yourself: “Does this company and its leaders reflect my beliefs? Is this a company I’m proud to represent?” If the answers are no, update your résumé (it is always easier to find work when you are working), and start seeking a career with a more progressive company that does put its employees first.

The Second Answer

Jamie Sale

Olympic gold medalist pairs figure skater

Wow! This is a tough one, as many people encounter all kinds of unethical, unjust situations in the workplace.

You seem to love your job and love being with the people who you work with, which is half the battle in so many of our daily lives – finding a job that we love waking up for. I can appreciate your frustration towards having a salary that is lower than that of the person who is dating your manager, but if you hadn’t found out, you would still be plugging away like always and working just as hard to be the best you can be. I, as well as many other people, understand how unfair it is knowing people with less education or less experience are being paid more for a similar job. But I would advise you to stay focused on what you do best, keep your head down, control what you can, and outshine them all knowing that your hard work will also pay off for you. Hopefully with this approach, you won’t ever need to ask for a raise – it will just happen. Have you ever heard of karma? Everyone ends up getting what they put out there and everything happens for a reason. You’re being tested as we often are in life. Stay strong and good luck!

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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