How Do You Deal With Unfair Pay At Work?

How Do You Deal With Unfair Pay At Work?

Are you tired of putting in long hours and hard work, only to be paid less than you deserve? 

Unfair pay can be a frustrating and demotivating experience for any employee. 

But you are not alone. Millions of workers across the US face this issue every day. According to a recent survey by Indeed, only 30% of male employees and 15% of female employees strongly agree that they are paid fairly.

The good news is that you have options. There are steps you can take to ensure that you receive fair pay for the work you do. 

In this article, we will guide you through the process of understanding unfair pay, assessing your situation, and taking action to receive what you rightfully deserve.

Understanding unfair pay

Unfair pay occurs when an employee is not compensated fairly for their work in comparison to their peers or industry standards. This can include disparities in base pay, bonuses, or other forms of compensation.

But how do you know if you are experiencing unfair pay? Here are four signs to look out for:

  • Significant disparities in pay between coworkers with similar responsibilities and qualifications. For example, if a coworker with a similar job title, experience, and performance record earns a significantly higher salary than you, this could indicate unfair pay.
  • Denial of promotions or raises despite meeting or exceeding performance expectations. If your employer offers a promotion or a raise to a coworker but not to you, despite your comparable or better performance, this could suggest unfair pay.
  • Unequal pay for the same or similar work. If you and a coworker are performing the same or similar job duties but are receiving different pay, this could indicate unfair pay.
  • Pay that is lower than industry standards. If your pay is significantly lower than the average pay for your job or industry, this could indicate unfair pay.

It is important to note that unfair pay is different from discrimination. 

Discrimination involves treating someone differently based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, age, religious views, sexual orientation, etc. 

While unfair pay can sometimes be a result of discrimination, it can also occur without discrimination being a factor. 

For example, an employer may use a flawed job evaluation system that results in unequal pay for the same or similar work, even if there is no discriminatory intent.

Assessing your situation

If you suspect that you are experiencing unfair pay, it is important to assess your situation and gather evidence to support your claim. 

Here are some examples of evidence that can help demonstrate unfair pay:

  • Pay records and comparisons with coworkers. You can request a copy of your pay records and compare them to the pay records of coworkers with similar responsibilities and qualifications.
  • Job descriptions and performance evaluations. A comparison of your job description and performance evaluations with those of coworkers can help demonstrate disparities in pay.
  • Industry standards and data. Research the average pay for your job or industry in your area and compare it to your own pay.
  • Policies and procedures of your employer. Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies and procedures for determining pay and promotions, and compare them to your own experiences.

In New York state, there are several laws and regulations that protect employees from unfair pay, including the New York State Labor Law and the New York State Human Rights Law

These laws prohibit discrimination in pay and employment practices and provide protections for employees who raise concerns about unfair pay.

Additionally, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are federal laws that protect employees from wage discrimination on the basis of sex. 

The FLSA also sets minimum wage and overtime standards, ensuring that employees are paid fairly for the work they do.

Addressing unfair pay

Once you have assessed your situation and gathered evidence of unfair pay, it is time to address the issue with your employer. 

This conversation can be intimidating, but it is important to remember that you have rights and protections under the law. 

Before having the conversation, it may be helpful to prepare a list of specific examples of unfair pay and evidence to support your claims. This will help you clearly and effectively communicate your concerns. 

During the conversation, be respectful and professional, and focus on finding a solution to the issue.

If your employer does not address the issue or if you are not satisfied with their response, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, including discrimination in pay.

If you choose to file a complaint with the EEOC, you will need to provide evidence of unfair pay and discrimination. The EEOC will investigate your complaint and, if necessary, take legal action against your employer on your behalf.

If the EEOC is unable to resolve your complaint or if you choose not to file with the EEOC, you may also consider taking legal action through a private attorney.

Whichever way you choose to go, keep in mind that this is your fundamental right. You deserve to be paid fairly for the work you do, and you should not hesitate to seek legal counsel if necessary.

Preventing unfair pay

Preventing unfair pay is just as important as addressing it. 

Fair pay is not only a legal obligation, but it is also essential for creating a healthy and productive workplace. 

By taking steps to prevent unfair pay, employees can help create a culture of transparency and fairness, and ensure that everyone is fairly compensated for their work.

One of the most important things an employee can do to prevent unfair pay is to speak up. 

If you suspect that you or someone else is being paid unfairly, it is important to address the issue promptly in one of the ways we described earlier (a conversation with the employer, a complaint with the EEOC, or legal action).

In order to prevent unfair pay, it is also important for employees to educate themselves about their rights and the laws and regulations related to fair pay. 

Staying informed about changes to these laws and regulations can help ensure that you have the information you need to address any payment issues that may arise.

Finally, it is essential to be an advocate for fair pay, regardless of who is experiencing it. This may involve supporting coworkers who are paid unfairly, participating in workplace initiatives to promote fair pay, or speaking up about the importance of fair pay in your community and beyond.

The importance of pay transparency

Pay transparency refers to open and honest communication about pay within an organization. 

This can include sharing salary information, benefits, and other compensation-related data with employees. 

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of pay transparency in promoting fairness and equity in the workplace. 

Here are five key reasons why it is important:

  1. Increases trust and fairness – When employees understand how pay is determined, they are more likely to feel that they are being treated fairly and equitably. Additionally, transparency around pay can help to eliminate perceptions of favoritism or bias, further promoting a sense of trust and fairness.
  2. Decreases misunderstandings and conflicts – Clear communication about pay can help to prevent disputes or disagreements, as employees will have a better understanding of the basis for their compensation.
  3. Improves workplace culture – A culture of pay transparency can have a positive impact on workplace morale and engagement. When employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Furthermore, a transparent and open approach to pay can help to foster a sense of community and collaboration within an organization.
  4. Supports legal compliance – Pay transparency can help organizations to stay compliant with the law. In New York State, for example, a new law was enacted in 2022 requiring employers to list salary ranges in new job postings and job posting promotions. By ensuring that employees are aware of the compensation that they can expect to receive, organizations can help to avoid legal disputes and penalties.
  5. Supports pay equity – Pay transparency can help to promote pay equity, which refers to the idea that individuals who perform the same work should receive the same pay, regardless of their gender, race, or other personal characteristics. 


Fair pay is a critical aspect of the modern workforce, and it is essential for employees to understand their rights and options for addressing unfair pay. 

By gathering evidence, negotiating with their employer, and taking legal action if necessary, employees can ensure that they are paid fairly for their work.

As a law firm dedicated to ensuring that employees and workers across the United States are paid fairly, we encourage individuals to speak up and take action against unfair pay. 

Contact us immediately if you suspect you are being unpaid fairly and we’ll work together to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.



Let us fight to recover the wages you have earned.

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