Using a Coworker’s Salary as Leverage

by Evil HR Lady on November 21, 2019

I just found out a coworker is making more than I am, even though I have been here longer. How can I bring this up to my manager without giving away how I found out? Can I use this as leverage for a raise?

To read my answer, click here; Using a Coworker’s Salary as Leverage

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy November 21, 2019 at 5:32 pm

If you learned the salary difference from John, aren’t you worried about retaliation against John? Sure, it’s illegal, but it’s an unwritten (if not still written) rule in many companies that employees must never share salaries. If the company fires John illegally for breaking that rule, he could sue and win. But making someone else risk going through all that for one’s own benefit would be a pretty big deterrent, wouldn’t it?

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Mr Moxie November 22, 2019 at 3:57 am

Certainly if no one tries to do anything, nothing will change.

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MariaRose November 21, 2019 at 11:02 pm

Aside from the “unwritten” rule of not discussing your salary, which is being dissolved by the younger working generation in the desire to have transparency in this area, one can approach the person who does the hiring to discuss this discrepancy, especially if the job is supposedly the same position. Many companies try to hide this under the “clause” of changes in the salary based on “inflation” but they also have to increase the older hires with a similar percent increase for that same reason. In a way, this is a form of bias toward the in-place employee by the HR department if they raise the salary for a newer hire for the same job. Since this employee seems to have found out that the new co-worker makes more for the same position, the employee could approach HR with a question about what has changed in the job position requirements that caused a higher salary need for someone newer and could one if one acquires these skills, be raised to the higher salary. Which puts all the explanations in HR for the discrepancy. If I was that employee, I would view it as a subtle discrimination method to encourage me to quit, if the pay difference had nothing to do with my job skills.

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charles November 22, 2019 at 4:58 am

No, No, No; do NOT bring your co-worker’s salary into the conversation. That will take the conversation down the wrong path. Even if it is legal to discuss salaries; if there is no reason to ruffle feathers why do so?

Simply use this information as just what it is – valuable information. You now know what they are willing to pay (assuming that your coworker is telling the truth and that you are worth the same) and tell them what the market should pay. (Let them wonder how you know what the market pays; especially since you will be spot on. If they ask, tell them you did research.)

I speak from experience on this. I, too, found out that I was paid less than others because someone left a copy of the direct deposit for pay to the banks on a photocopier. I left it where it was but made a note of what others were paid. After I cooled down a couple of weeks later I asked for a raise stating all that I had done for the company and here was what I expected in a raise.

Now, I didn’t get what I asked for; but, my salary was now on par with coworkers. This may not have been the outcome if I stated that “Johnny makes more than me! We need to fix this!”

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Bobboccio November 25, 2019 at 6:06 pm

Something I’ve always wondered about this… what if one’s boss responds… “This coworker is better paid because they are outperforming you. But this isn’t about them, this is about you. We are paying you in line with your value to this organization with your present performance and analytical skills.” That would be an easy out for any racial or gender animus right? Too easy an out. How does one prove someone’s analytical skills are as good as another coworkers?

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