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Three reasons your colleague may be paid more than you

It is corporate policy at many organizations that employees may not discuss their pay among each other. This hush-hush approach is intended to prevent rivalry and discord, but it can also enable unfairness and discrimination. Despite your employer's best efforts to conceal disparate pay rates, you might be surprised to learn that you are receiving less pay than your colleagues for work that appears to be equal.

There are a range of different factors that a company considers when it determines an employee's pay rate, but you might question why your salary appears to be lower than it should be. Here are three reasons that might explain why this is happening and help you decide what form of recourse to take if you are being treated unfairly by your employer.

1. More experience than you

In some cases, employees who hold the same position and do the same work earn different pay because of their prior experience. Even though you are now equals, if you entered your position with three years of experience, and your colleague came in with seven, he or she likely got a starting pay rate that is above yours. Companies often do this to attract highly qualified candidates to a position.

2. Request for a higher salary

Sometimes experience is not a factor in a pay disparity. Rather, your coworker may be getting more pay simply because he or she requested it. If your employer asked what your minimum acceptable pay rate is, and you provided a figure below the other person's, the other person will likely have a higher pay than you. You can always approach your HR department and request a raise, but this may or may not be successful.

3. Discriminatory pay practices

Unfortunately, sometimes it is true that discriminatory pay practices are to blame for unfair differences between salaries. If you are a woman or minority, you might experience discrimination in the form of receiving lower wages. An employer may not even do this consciously or intentionally, but if your identity is the only factor separating you from your higher-paid colleague, it is reasonable to be suspicious.

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