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I applaud the good work you have done and are still doing, but I need to know if there is any legal recourse for me in my employment? I work for a junior college in southern Illinois as an Administrative Secretary to a Dean. Since the date of my hiring in 1993, I have been paid approximately $4,000 a year less than two other co-workers (one has now been promoted to Adm. Assistant to a Vice President, the other one was promoted to Adm. Assistant to a Dean). Our three jobs require the same skills, same qualifications, same committees, etc. and we perform our duties under identical working conditions. I have requested three times in six years equal pay and job title change, but been refused each time. I have been verbally informed by top management that it is "because of who my boss is."

Of course, this is blatant discrimination, but yet there seems to be no federal or state laws broken since we are all three females, therefore, it cannot be based on sex. How do I legally force my employer to pay me the same salary as the other two secretaries, who perform the same duties as myself? Although the money is the driving force behind my motives (I am 58 yr. old, single and getting closer every day to retiring, and my employer continues to rob benefits from my retirement pension by refusing to treat me honestly and equally), I have also had to struggle from year to year with loss of self-esteem by getting paid thousands of dollars less for my employer having the benefit of my skills, but refusing to reimburse me as they should. Thank you for any information you can offer me. Frustrated but still hanging in there...

Thanks so much for your note to Feminist.com--and for hanging in there. I wish that I were a labor lawyer expert so I could give you an exact answer. From what it sounds like--the thing that will work against you is that even though you have the same duties, you have different titles. For instance, their rebuttal will be, "because that's what that "position" pays." However, this is precisely why feminists have fought for "equal pay for work of equal value" rather than simply "equal pay." The latter leaves the room for the "title" escape. Of course, you should check this out with someone who knows more about the law that I--how about 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. They might have an answer at the 800 job problem line.

Also, if you do decide to legally pursue something make sure you document your case--dates, amounts, duties, skills, etc... Also, maybe simply spelling out your complaint in a letter to your employer alluding to the fact that if this isn't corrected you will file something. I'm sorry to not be able to help you definitively, but I hope that you will contact 9to5 and/or write back for further suggestions. Good luck and -- and please don't let your self-esteem suffer as a result of their injustice.


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