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Careers Help, I’ve discovered that a new employee is making more than I am

Employers cannot pay one employee less than another if doing so amounts to discrimination.

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The question

I have been at my company for 12 years and an account manager for the past seven. The owner hired his friend in the same role. Same job, same tasks. Today I discovered they are paying him substantially more than me, despite the fact that I have amassed more clients and bring in more revenue. What can I do?

The first answer

Natalie MacDonald and Mackenzie Irwin

MacDonald & Associates, Toronto

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Your employer is allowed to pay you less than your colleagues for doing the same job, unless it is doing so on the basis of discrimination.

Under provincial and federal human-rights legislation, an employer cannot pay one employee less than another if doing so amounts to discrimination – for example, because of the employee’s race, age, sex, sexual orientation or disability.

Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, an employer cannot pay one employee less than another employee based on their sex when they perform substantially the same kind of work in the same establishment. However, employees of different sexes who are performing equal work may be paid different rates if the difference is due to a seniority system, a merit-based system or a system that measures earnings by production quantity or quality.

Practically, if you’re being paid less than a colleague who is performing substantially the same work as you are, the best approach is to raise your concern with the company in a respectful manner. Be prepared for this meeting by documenting the value that you bring to your position.

Other options may include filing a complaint with the province’s Ministry of Labour or the Human Rights Tribunal if the basis for the pay discrepancy is discriminatory. You may also have the beginnings of a constructive-dismissal case. All of these options forbid the employer from taking any retaliatory action against you for enforcing your rights.

The second answer

Bruce Sandy

Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

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I am curious how you discovered that the other staff member is making more than you are. Often companies are sensitive about and do not share with employees what other staff members are earning. If this is the case in your company, then you will have to be mindful about how you present and use this information.

First, I suggest that you research what account managers earn in other similar companies. LinkedIn job postings and other similar websites are helpful in collecting this information. Also, make a list of your accomplishments over the past year (or five years).

Set up an appointment with the owner and share your achievements. Say that you like working for the company and that you would like to help the company grow and prosper.

Then present the results of your industry survey, mentioning that fairness and equity are important to you and that you would like to be making the same amount or more than your colleagues in the sector and the company.

Finally, ask the owner for an appropriate raise so there is parity within the company and the sector. Be prepared to negotiate. Give your boss a salary range and ask for the higher end and be prepared to accept the lower or mid-part of the range.

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