Women's wage equality and Glassdoor.com

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:15 AM

May an employer base an employee pay decision solely on her gender? In the United States, this has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This statute requires charges to be filed "within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred." In May 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ledbetter v. Goodyear that "unlawful employment practice" refers only to the initial discriminatory pay decision.1 Unfortunately for plaintiffs, that decision is likely to have been made much more than 180 days before an employee becomes aware of any pay disparity.

In an article in Time magazine,2 Lisa Takeuchi Cullen remarked on Americans' reluctance to share their own salary information. She suggested that we might all be better served by openly sharing the details of our compensation with others.

The trouble with this plan is that many workers fear their employers will disapprove of their sharing — even retaliate against them. In fact, in some workplaces, employees are expressly forbidden to discuss their own compensation terms with coworkers.

A new website, Glassdoor.com,3 has the potential to become a useful weapon in the fight for pay equality. Members are encouraged to "contribute an employer review or salary report," "save [their] information to a free and anonymous account," and "get full access to the reviews and salaries shared by our community." A site like this could be useful in shedding light not just on illegal discrimination, but also on legal but unfair policies practiced by some companies.

A bill to allow employees to bring suit within 180 days on their most recent discriminatory paycheck (rather than the initial one, which may have been issued years before), passed in the House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate in April 2008.4 (Had it passed, the Bush White House had promised to veto it anyway.) Taking advantage of every opportunity, such as that offered by Glassdoor.com, to share salary information may be the only way for employees to guard against unfair compensation.

Notes

  1. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. See the complete text of the decision (PDF).
  2. May 5, 2008. "Coming Clean on Workers' Salaries.
  3. The author has no affiliation with Glassdoor.com and is receiving no compensation for this post.
  4. Results of Senate vote reported in IPMA-HR Washington Update, May 2008.

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