Can a big bank pay me less then a man or a much younger woman for the same job?

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Can a big bank pay me less then a man or a much younger woman for the same job?

I am a 54 year old woman with over 30 years of banking and customer service experience. I have worked for one of
the largest banks for four years. Recently my branch hired two new employees to do the same job as me. One is a 21
year old male and the other is a 24 year old female. Neither one has any banking experience or much other job
experience. last week I over heard them discussing their starting pay. They have both been hired at more money
then I make after four years. Needless to say I was very upset. I have spoken to my manager, my regional manager
and the H.R department. I am told that the starting pay was just different when I was hired four years ago and that
they agree it does seem unfair but they can’t do anything about it. I feel completely cheated I have excellent reviews
and attendance. How can they bring in these much younger people and pay them more for the exact same job? It is
very difficult to work with them and help train them knowing they make more money then me. I am afraid to file a
complaint because I don’t want to get fired. I know there is a retaliation law but a big company like this would find a
way. I really enjoyed my job up until this happened. I don’t want to start all over again somewhere else. Is there
anything I can do?

Asked on May 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no real gender discrimination claim here since 1 of the 2 new employees is female. As to age discrimination, it is illegal to give less favorable treatment to an employee based on their age (if they are over 40). That having been said, it's not clear that this is the issue in your case. While it is true that people younger than you are being paid more, if your employer can demonstrate that starting salaries are higher now due to a more competitive labor market, then that could to negating an age discrimination claim. At this point you can file a complaint with the EEOC or at least consult on the issues directly with a local employment law attorney.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether this can be shown to be age or gender related discrimination. Since a younger woman is paid more than you, it would not be gender based discrimination. In terms of age related discrimination, it *may* be--the fact than an over 40-year old is paid less than under-25-year olds who do not have better experience or credentials than her suggests it may be. However, suggesting is not the same thing as proving: were you to file a sex-based discrimination complaint, the employer would have the opportunity to show that there is a non-discriminatory reason for this. If they can show that starting salaries are higher now due to, say, a  stronger, more competitive labor market, then that could show that there is no discrimination.
So you can file a claim with the EEOC and may win, but it is not guaranted: again, if they could show a non-discriminatory reason, they could avoid liability.
Note that under the law, they cannot retaliate against you bringing a discrimination claim--the law forbids that sought of retaliation. So if you do bring a claim and they do retaliate, that retaliation could itself give rise to a claim.


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