The phrase “binders of women” went viral this week when Governor Mitt Romney used the awkward phrase to explain his attitude towards women in the workplace. His point, poorly made, was that he had to go looking for women to work in his cabinet when he first became Governor of Massachusetts. The phrase has taken on a life of its own. It has its own Facebook page and it even has a Twitter account.
But it brings to light a bigger issue, one that you may be dealing with in your own life. Are you a woman making less money than your male counterparts for doing the same job? If so, you may want to think about hiring an attorney to look into this very unfair practice.
According to the National Committee on Pay Equality, “Women's earnings were 77.0 percent of men's in 2011, compared to 77.4 percent in 2010, according to Census statistics released September 12, 2012 based on the median earnings of all full-time, year-round workers. Men's earning in 2011 were $48,202 and women's were $37,118, a difference of $11,084.”
College educated women don’t have it better than their high school graduate counterparts. A woman with a high school diploma makes only .74 for every $1 her male co-worker earns. Women with an Associates or Bachelor’s degree made only .74 as well, while her male co-workers who have only a high school diploma are making about .25 more per hour.
So what can you do if you find you are one of these statistics? Well, companies rely on the fact that co-workers don’t discuss salary with one another, it’s considered bad manners and is frowned upon by employers. If you do learn that you are being paid less than a man with the same job and the same qualifications, however, you should take action.
Document the disparity. Write down how you learned of the disparity and what the actual difference is in pay. Write down your qualifications and those of your higher-paid co-worker. Take your concerns to the employers and ask them to do a self-audit. Ask them to take a good hard look at their records and their compensation practices and determine if they are failing to pay all employees a fair wage. Make notes of all conversations you have with your employer and outcomes of any discussions. If you are uncomfortable about telling your employer about any revealing conversations you have had with your co-workers, blame it on the Internet. Tell your boss that you were surfing sites like Glassdoor.com and learned that someone in your position should really be making XXX.
If your employer still strong-arms you, seek legal help. The Law Firm of Richard Tendler may be able to guide you in this, but if not, we can certainly refer you to the best attorney for the job. Don’t wait.