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Equal Pay for Equal Work in Texas Workplaces

President Obama is suggesting he will issue an Executive Order announcing that government employees may openly discuss their salaries. The idea is that transparent discussion between men and women about their salaries will create equality across genders in pay. This is a shame; however, in the government context it is probably the proper thing to do.

In a private Austin Workplace setting, there is no reason to permit employees to discuss their salary with anyone except supervisors and human resources representatives. There are many non-discriminatory reasons that salaries should not be transparent at a private company. For example, the employee may be one that is receiving heavy nonfinancial investments such as extra on-the-job training that are part of their salary calculation

This does not, by any means, mean it is OK to standardize lower pay for female employees. Female employees historically receive less pay than men for reasons that are well documented and beyond the scope of this article. It is also not fair to say that I am insensitive to the issue. I was once told that I could not have a raise and that “if I would quit spending money on my family, I wouldn’t need to work so hard.” At the time I was childless and, even now, I am not sure I understand what was meant by the statement except that something about my family status related to not be better compensated.

It is hard to give blanket advice to all employees because the types of businesses and types of employees are endless. Sales folks are not motivated or satisfied by the same things that engineers are motivated by. The one single piece of advice that I do have is this: Make a payment scheme that is straightforward to apply and then apply it to all people with a certain job title. So, examples may be:

  • All Sales Representatives should receive a bonus of one-half of all sales collected within 30 days and no other bonuses are applied.

  • All employees start at a salary of $30,000 in 2014 as adjusted in future years by published rates of inflation and shall receive an annual raise based on a scored evaluation of no more than 10% per annum.

  • No newly graduated employee shall receive more than 125 percent of the published median rate of pay for their specialty according to the most recent published results and then placed into the bonus and increase pool with their peers.

The reason one single calculation is important are twofold: The preliminary reason is that supervisors can feel good implementing a fair process and that attitude trickles down to employees who generally believe they are being treated fairly. The second reason is that fair systems are actually fair and employers will be able to present statistics that prove they behave fairly regardless of gender.