A Young Man and His Colleague Discovered that She Was Being Underpaid, Likely Because She Was a Woman, Was He Wrong to Discuss His Pay with A Co-Worker?

Jack (19) made the mistake of telling his co-worker, Heidi, how much he was making at their new cashier job, which revealed a salary discrepancy and led to a strained relationship with their manager. Here is what he had to say:

He Was Thrilled

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When 19-year-old Jack landed his first job as a cashier at a store, he was thrilled to have a steady income to support himself while still being able to attend school.

He Had a Friend in Work

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He quickly became friends with his co-worker, Heidi, who had also been hired around the same time and trained with him. Whenever they were working together, they would chat and ask each other about their schedules.

He was Excited

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When it came time for their first paycheck, Jack and Heidi were excited to see how much they had earned. However, when Heidi told Jack how much she had been paid, he was surprised to hear that she had earned less than him, even though she had worked more hours. They were both confused and decided to talk to their manager about it.

They Were Both Upset

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It turned out that during the interview process, the manager had told Heidi that the pay for their position was a certain amount, but had told Jack a different amount. Heidi was understandably upset and confronted the manager about the discrepancy. Jack was also upset for his friend, and supported her in her efforts to get the issue resolved.

The Mother Got Mad

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However, when Jack told his mother about what had happened, she scolded him for telling Heidi how much he was making. She explained that it was not appropriate to discuss salaries with co-workers and that it could cause problems like this. She also warned him that it could reflect poorly on him, and the manager could view him as a troublemaker.

He Got Worried

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Jack began to worry that he had made a mistake and caused trouble for his boss. He noticed that the manager was no longer as friendly towards him and would ignore him when he came into work. Jack felt guilty and wondered if he had been in the wrong for telling Heidi how much he was making.

Straight to the Internet

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With this situation stuck in Jack’s mind, he was so torn about what to do and what to say, that he reached out to a popular internet forum for advice.

The Internet Responds

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The first person writes, “Pay inequity is a huge problem, and it’s against the law for employers to try to keep employees from discussing relative pay for this very reason (at least in the US). Employers will try really, really hard to instill the attitude that it’s bad to talk about pay with co-workers, and your mother seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid on this one. But, you should be doing it early and often.”

A Further Comment

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Another person puts, “And the woman is getting paid much LESS than a man for the same type of job and with the same experience. It’s an obvious case of discrimination, no matter if it was a mistake or what. Your mom is kind of a jerk here. There’s nothing wrong with comparing how much you are getting paid as long as it’s not to be smug about it. Also, it’s not your job to get your boss off the hook for underpaying someone else.”

A Final Comment

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The last person comments, “Your mom is stuck in the 1960s. Apparently, she thinks it’s totally acceptable for a woman to be paid less for the exact same work. You are a hero to many for letting Heidi know she was getting fleeced. Keep doing this! Transparency is the only way to expose these jerks who think women and people of color are worth less in the workplace. Encourage your mom to learn more about the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s rights in general. This is concerning. She should be proud of you.”

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Photo Credit: Kues / Shutterstock.

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Photo Credit: Volodymyr_Shtun / Shutterstock.

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