The Mailbag.

AuthorDelogu, Nancy

How to spot (and address) gender pay disparity?

Q How can someone prove they are being paid less because they are a woman? What would the steps be to get an increase in pay for a woman in order to more closely match a male co-worker?--Dawn, Oklahoma

  1. The federal Equal Pay Act requires equal pay for equivalent work. Plus, many state laws simply require equal pay for "comparable work." (See state law chart at

    Proving that two people are performing comparable work can be challenging, since people disagree on whether particular job duties require comparable skill, effort and responsibility. Since you work in HR, I will assume you are interested in ensuring that your employer is fully compliant with this law.

    If you conduct a self-audit, you may find that salaries are not equitably distributed. The results of your audit may not be protected as confidential, however, and may be discoverable in equal-pay litigation. For that reason, consider hiring a lawyer to run the assessment (see page 4). The attorney will gather information on job descriptions, wage rates, tenure, etc. He or she can then advise whether your pay practices show any statistically significant differences based on gender (or race, etc.) among comparable job sets. If so, you can then move to fix those disparities.

    Disciplining remotely: What's the best practice?

    Q What is the recommendation for writing up someone when they work in the field and rarely visit the office? Is it a call, a Zoom or an email--or a combination of these?--Quintila, California

  2. This has become an increasingly common problem during the pandemic. If you can, use video conferencing for regular meetings with workers as well as for delivering less welcome news, such as performance critiques. Video will make it easier to communicate and to eliminate misunderstandings because you have a better chance of recognizing looks of confusion or disagreement. If a Zoom call is unavailable and meeting in person isn't an option, then a phone call is your next best option.

    As with any meeting, advance planning on what you wish to communicate is vital so you can clearly express your concerns and leave room for feedback. Take notes of what to cover before launching into the meeting/call. Ask for the employee's input on the discipline and allow some silence so the employee can respond thoughtfully.

    Also, always follow up a coaching or disciplinary meeting with an email or other written...

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