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My colleagues and I recently discovered that new hires for our position are being recruited with a salary that is 20% higher. Thus they are being paid more than us even though we have as much as 5 more years of experience in the same position. Other hires of equal seniority to us, but with different specializations, are also receiving this 20% higher salary.

Are there legal grounds for arguing that we deserve equal pay? Is it illegal to pay different employees different amounts for the same work, if the difference is not based on a protected attribute like gender or race? Could we argue that there is a "standard wage" that we are not receiving?

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Are there legal grounds for arguing that we deserve equal pay?

No, but there are commercial grounds - you can ask for a rise.

Is it illegal to pay different employees different amounts for the same work, if the difference is not based on a protected attribute like gender or race?

No.

Could we argue that there is a "standard wage" that we are not receiving?

No.

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You should be aware that the law may be a lot more complicated than just "No." There are lots of reasons why the pay differential may be illegal, depending on your circumstances.

For workplace rules in particular, a full answer would require information about what state you work in, as it has its own laws governing pay, as may the city you're working in. If you're a government worker, there may be other rules governing your pay. If you're covered under a collective bargaining agreement, there may be other rules governing your pay.

The fact that the company generally pays more to people both more senior and more junior than you suggests that something is weird. Of course, it's possible that you're doing a bad job, or that they just don't like you, but the description of the situation is curious.

  • Thank you, yes, our case is a bit specific and has some other nuances, which I didn't want to get into here because I think they may not be more broadly relevant in this community. But I was just wondering if there was some sort of umbrella law governing such situations, which it appears there is not...thanks for the pointers to the state law and collective bargaining agreements, we can look more into these. – atkat12 Apr 6 '18 at 21:53
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It's not illegal. That's the law.stackexchange part done.

The part that would belong to workplace.stackexchange: You are of course free to find an open position elsewhere, which should pay you 20% more than their exisiting employees. With your multiyear experience that should be no problem. Do you owe any loyalty to your company? 1. Not after you quit. 2. Not much anyway since they are knowingly underpaying you.

You have a problem that you cannot solve using legal means. There are good workplace related solutions. Unfair ≠ illegal.

  • Thanks for the pointer to workplace.stackexchange...I think you're right that it is the appropriate forum given these answers, I was just curious about whether we have actual legal leverage for making the case for a raise. – atkat12 Apr 6 '18 at 21:50

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