Salaries and compensation are usually kept confidential at a private company. Unlike public or government employees, whose pay is often public record, the wages people earn are something nobody talks about. It seems intrusive, and uncomfortable.
But in some cases, information is leaked even just standing around the water cooler. It wouldn’t be unheard of to learn through office gossip that a male colleague doing your same job is making more money than you are, or that a white woman with your title is making more than you are, a black women. No matter how you hear of it, it’s discriminatory, and illegal under federal and state laws.
On average, a woman in the United States today makes 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women of color make even less.
The federal Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. But that doesn’t mean wage discrimination doesn’t happen anyway. Many employers assume their female employees won’t find out.
There is a wage gap between white and black workers, too. A CNN report found that hourly pay for whites was $25.22 an hour, compared to $18.49 for blacks. That’s a pay gap of 26.7 percent, CNN reported. Researchers interviewed found that the wage gap had little to do with education, work experience or where a worker lives. Instead, they told CNN, it was flat-out discrimination.
The researchers found that the wage gap between black men with 11 to 20 years of work experience and white men with the same time under their belts was wider than it was for black men who had 10 years’ of experience or less and their white colleagues. Black women with 11 to 20 years of experience also were paid less than white women with the same experience and those with 10 years’ experience or less were paid lower rates. No matter how wide, the wage gap is there between blacks and whites.
And keep in mind, pay doesn’t always mean straight wages. It also can mean stock options, bonuses, vacation time and other perks of employment.
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