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Work/ Career

I am an African American Female working in a Japanese firm. Just by that sentence alone, I am sure you know that there are some serious issues with my company. Right now I want to address one. I was given a position that a former co-worker, white female occupied. I learned that the company paid this female a huge sum more that they are paying me to do the same job. The only difference is that her title was changed during the course of her holding the position. However essentially she performed the same responsibilities that I have. Consequently, the position that I left, they put a white female in and turns out they are paying her grossly less than they paid me to do the same job. Correct me if I am wrong, but am I wrong that they are doing something illegal. I consulted an attorney on this matter who told me that this is not legal, is she correct?

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. When I read that you were "an African American Female working in a Japanese firm"--my first response was actually "how interesting," but certainly after reading your note, my response has changed to "her company has serious issues." Though you company is "wrong" -- it may in fact not be breaking the law. This, of course, only means that the law is wrong--or that it is broken and needs to be fixed. The problem is that many companies/businesses are exempt from federal laws--such as fair pay and sex discrimination--because they are considered a small business and, therefore, the number of employees falls below the level the U.S. government deems necessary to fall under federal law. (I think the number of employees is somewhere between 50 and 100.)

The other problem with the law is that it is extremely weak and therefore, pratically encourages the exact type of situation that exists is your workplace. Namely, the law says that you must pay people the same amount of money for doing the same job. They get away with this because they change the job titles and say that they are different jobs. Other companies do a version of this when they make up arbitrary training requirements.

With all that said--that it is wrong, but not entirely illegal--that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to make it right. It's cases such as yours that could have the potential to become precedent setting--i.e. change the law rather than conform to existing laws. Given that you have already spoken to an attorney, I suggest that you continue this conversation with her/him.

I'm sorry that you, one, had to experience this, and two that you now have to expend the energy to change it.


Amy

 

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