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I am a licensed mental health counselor (LPC) in the state of Louisiana. I work for General Health Systems (a huge healthcare provider in the states of Louisiana and Texas). I have been frustrated for quite some time because of wage differences in LPC's (Licensed Professional Counselors) and BCSW's (Board Certified Social Workers).

Although my educational experience and credentials (and those of most other LPC's) exceed the licensing standards of BCSW's, I (and many others in my company) are paid several dollars less per hour for performing identical job duties to those of BCSW's in my company. Approximately one year ago, I, a colleague, and my supervisor met with the General Health System Human Resource Director to present our credentials and request parity of pay. We were given lip service only, and later were labled as troublemakers for attempting to assert our rights.

I like my job but am becoming increasingly discouraged and resentful of the wage disparity described above. My new supervisor has recently requested a raise for me, but I doubt seriously anything will change. Is there any course of action that can be taken, short of contacting a lawyer?

Thanks for giving this letter your time and attention. Sincerely, KMH

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. What you are experiencing is precisely the problem with the old motto of equal pay. The problem being that employers pay anyone who has exactly the same job title the same, but those having jobs of comparable skills were then exempt from paying those the same. This is why feminists began lobbying for comparable worth--or equal pay for work of equal value--i.e. if its the same skills and the same requirements (i.e. training and/or education) then people could be paid the same. However, the latest problem with this is twofold (actually probably multi-fold)--and that is 1.) that employers with fewer than 50 employees (I think it's 50) are except from these rules and 2.) employers maneuver the system by qualifying different jobs with a different set of skills.

This long-winded explanation is all a matter of saying that though what you are experiencing is wrong, there are so many loopholes in the system that legally speaking (though certainly not morally) your employer may have his/her back covered. However, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't work to change the system. For starters, you should inquire about your employers standards and also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will then be investigated by them (usually several months to several years later).

I hope that helps--and I hope that you pursue your case--mostly because your taking the lead will pave the way for others--and hopefully for yourself, too.


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