Office Race/Raise War

I am filing an anonymous debate, to see if I can get any help with my current situation.

I work for a non-profit. I have been here over a year, underpaid. My duties have doubled, my hours increased. But no more pay. I make less than $9 an hour, for a job others would make significantly more for, with the level of skill required. I have stayed, solely, because the hours were flexible… and it was something to do on the side while going to school. But, with the increase in responsibilities and stress… my school has had to take a hold on back-burner. I am being groomed for even more responsibility. And I just decided, ENOUGH! My bills are drowning me, and I have no benefits (medical/retirement). We have a staff under 10, & I do more work than ANYONE else and I make the least. I also have more education that over 3/4 of the staff, and am in school to get more. I have more technical ability, and am the choice of supervisor for all public obligations (as I am professional and personable). My boss loves me, and wants to give me more money.

Problem is, we have a board. He can’t decide raises… he has to seek approval from board.

I told him I can’t stay and allow myself to be underpaid and overworked… when I feel others are under-worked and overpaid. He agreed the situation was just unfair, and knows I have more to offer than he could dream of replacing for equal pay.

So, he went to the board.

Most all were agreeable in discussing the matter, as they all agreed I was underpaid. Now I asked for almost an double in pay. I feel it’s fair, because I can get that starting elsewhere with my skill level and experience. I even got letters from similar agencies supervisors who know me saying it was fair and they would pay me that. My coworkers agreed that I was worth a significant raise as well, as they did NOT want to (and could not computer skills related) take on my duties and workload.

So the Debate:

The Chairman, who is familiar with law sorta… says that we can’t give me a raise at all, because I am white, without giving a black employee a raise too. That is could be considered racism. This sounds insane to me, that you can’t give an employee a raise based on merit… due to skin color? That seems just as racist as not giving an employee a raise because they are black… which is illegal. Now he is saying maybe not that, but that you just can’t give ANY employee a raise unless you give all other employees a raise as well? This seems odd too. How can you not be allowed to give raises based on merit? What would be the encouragement to ever work harder, if no matter your education increase, work load increase or good performance… you will never get a better raise than an employee that does the base minimum to stay employed? That can’t be right, though he swears it is. Says the only thing legally fair is to give all employees a small raise, an no one employee a large raise. No matter performance, work load, or anything else. Help me please. My boss doesn’t know law. He wants to help me, but needs me to help him prove this is wrong. So, any law you can site for GA would be REALLY helpful. Also, if us being Non-profit is pertinent… we are.

Thank you in advance for ANY help you can give!

Salary matters are confidential everywhere. He’s stupid or lying.

I feel the same, that his facts are wrong. But with a boss you can’t say “You’re stupid or lying.” I have to prove it, in a nice way. Which is where my problem is! :frowning:

I work in the private sector, and am not familiar with how non profits function, but what you’ve related certainly sounds incorrect to me. I think either your boss or the board, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to give you a raise, period, and your boss pulled a reason out of his butt that he thought you’d buy. I’d be shocked if there is a mandate governing non profit organizations’ ability to give raises based solely on a racial quid pro quo. It sounds ridiculous. There may be something to not being able to give raises to some (or one) without giving to all, depending on how the organization is structured, but even that sounds odd to me.

What is it that you do? What type of organization is it? What’s your education level? What are your education goals?

Based on your description of event, I strongly believe that the Chairman is employing a red herring. In order to divert attention from the central issue of your responsibilities and how you are compensated for them, he is raising issues that are really none of your concern in an attempt to distract you from the central issue of the negotiation.

My advice is not to play this game. It will be an endless series of tunnels and questions and hypotheticals, where you run around and gather all this information to probably no avail.

One tactic you may want to try is to say something like, “I understand that you have many concerns to balance, Mr. Chairman, however, as the lowest-paid employee of the organization, I am not in the position to advise you on how you ought to pay other members of the staff. The reason I came to you is that I believe my responsibilities and track record make me qualified for a raise. I cannot get involved in any discussions on what Tim, Harvey, or Sally are making – can you imagine what they’d say if they thought I was negotiating with you on their salaries? I welcome any proposals you may make on my salary, but I hope we can keep this discussion limited to my situation only.”

I don’t feel it’s my boss, as I have heard him so angry with the board about this matter that he almost got himself in trouble. He NEEDS me, as I carry much of the weight of the agency and no one is trained to do my job or could. I believe him. The board member is just eccentric but holds ALL the power.

I am the Admin. Asst. by title, but more of a deputy director or at minimum executive assistant by work load. I do a little bit of everything: human resources, database, desktop publishing, PR, monthly reports, acct. payable/receivable, minor tech support, and on and on. I answer the phone while I do it all. I have only an associates (computers), working on bachelors… maybe masters in business. We are a 501C3 not for profit.

Oh, and I do payroll… so I know well what EVERYONE makes! :frowning:

Start looking for another job. A close friend of mine was in a similar situation. She could not get a raise, because “they couldn’t afford it”…
That is, until she did find another job for more pay. Suddenly, magically, miraculously, they could afford to match the offer. But she jumped ship anyway (a smart decision). It sounds like your place has a bad case of The Stupid. Bail on them, soon as another offer comes along. Whether you tell them in advance is up to you. They may make an offer, or they may “slag” you to cover their own asses. It’s a gamble. My thinking is, when there’s money involved, trust no one.

When I was involved with salary review, I know we got audited statistically for salary and level broken down by race and gender. There was also a review of each set of salary recommendations looking for potential issues. There was never any individual requirements that one group be paid equally to another group.

Now, you can do some research on civil rights acts and EEOC to prove that the chairman is full of it, or you can call your local EEOC and ask them about it, but the bottom line is that you are going to wind up telling the chairman that he is either stupid or lying, neither of which is going to get you any money.

Do you have a formal performance review? Can you get a reference from your boss? The obvious thing to do is to look for a new job. I’d also cut back so that schoolwork doesn’t suffer (and tell your boss you are only going to work your official hours.) You might also ask for an official job description, since if all the stuff you do is on there the absurdity of your pay will be obvious - and if it isn’t, you can stop doing it until your position is upgraded. All this might require you to look for that new job, but you probably knew it.

This is really IMHO territory. Just think - if the chairman were right, certain groups who see reverse discrimination everywhere would be having a fit - and correctly so, in this case. I think he is trying to take advantage of your youth, and in the long run the only way of dealing with boob bosses is to leave.

m.j. it also sounds to me like the chairman is spouting nonsense, but a couple of other points about your post.
You seem to have talked to everyone and his brother about what you make - all the fellow employees and other non-profit supervisors in particular. It’s one thing thing to have comparisons of salaries for similar positions, quite another to have a letter saying “M.J. is great and I’d pay $X” I don’t believe the latter is helpful.
And surveying your coworkers if they’d give you raise doesn’t strike me as constructive either.

To chime in…and this might not fit your case AT ALL…

In the past, when I was working my ass off and very underpaid but, for some reason, didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to just leave and get the same job at better pay…

I noticed that nobody ever just says ‘No’ to your request for a pay raise. They will first say you are mistaken and that you really don’t merit a raise - you then provide large amounts of documentation to show you really do.

They then look at it and poke holes in it. You shrug and walk away but they notice they…hey…you stopped fighting it and they might lose you and you really are a valuable asset (especially at your low pay).

So, they then come to you with REALLY GOOD REASONS why you cannot get the pay raise - but here is a token one and we will work REALLY REALLY hard at getting you what you deserve in the future - just give us time.

I have also noticed that these REALLY REALLY good reasons involve someone disconnected directly from you (board member - bosses bosses boss etc).

I finally saw though these things for what they were - They would never give me the raise but didn’t want to lose me - anything to keep me around longer and maybe I would go back to being meek little me.

I have noticed that companies, for whatever reason, cannot handle internal promotions well. They always try to underpay internal promotions. They seem incapable of paying a market rate for promoting someone internally.

My advise FWIW - say to them something like “it really is too bad that your rules forbid paying me market rate for what I do. Therefore, I am accepting a position at another company that has offered market rate. By the way, I was wondering how you intend to fill the position once I am gone if you can only offer half the market rate?”

It sounds to me too like you’re getting the run-around - they know they can’t replace all of the things you do for the same price. I’d go job shopping.

ETA: It just occurred to me that if you’re willing to quit anyway, just start doing the duties you want to do, in the hours that you originally agreed to. If they fire you, good - you’re free to get a job with proper pay then.

Likely I will just tell them that, and job hunt for a new one. Stinks but, what can I do? I can’t prove him wrong… and he holds the cards. I will just job hunt! Thanks!

As for discussing all my business with everyone. It’s just a small office. If I am having money troubles, the others know. I didn’t ask them, they came to me telling me to ask the boss to give me more money… because they want me to stay. Said they’d take no raise to keep me. I can’t help they know my business, I can’t sneeze without them knowing. If bill collectors call, they hear my every word. If a job calls for an interview… they hear that too. Staff of under 10, no secrets. As for other agencies, I was asked by my supervisor to screen them… as documentation for him to take to the meeting to argue on my behalf. I was just doing as I was told. Not really fun to tell my old bosses how little I make, but if my current boss thought it would get me a raise then I wasn’t going to fight him. When he went in with all this information, he had no idea all this would come up. They even had me here during the meeting, and I could hear them fighting about it!

No, he doesn’t hold the cards. This is the wrong way to think. You hold tremendous negotiating power because (a) you do a lot of work for a little pay, (b) your immediate boss is on your side, and (c) they will have problems replacing you.

I’d say YOU hold the cards, not the Chairman.

However, if you’re going to get wrapped around the axle on bogus questions, like whether or not they have to give everyone a raise if they give you one, then you are not playing the hand that has been dealt to you.

However, if the Chairman is intent on making bad decisions, there is nothing you can do to save him from himself. So I agree, keep your eye out for other jobs, but I think it is worth it to try to turn this negotiation more towards your advantage.

Yeah it definitely sounds like an excuse. If they actually wanted to keep you, there should be easy ways to give you the raise you need - for example, they could promote you (surely there’s no way to argue that a promotion can’t be given out due to your race!). Does your organization have very strict policies regarding promotions?

It is vaguely possible that the specific rules of this corporation prohibit giving raises to one employee without giving raises to the rest. It’d be a stupid way to run an organization and I think it’s extremely unlikely, but it could be the case. Ask to see why, in the rules of this corporation, one employee who’s doing a significantly different job than the other employees cannot be given a different rate of pay.

Honestly, start looking for another job. Don’t quit- do your job well, and make them pay you severance if they decide you should leave. And if you can find a new job that pays anything close to what you want, give notice and let your boss know why. It’s possible that you’ll get an offer from the board then.

I disagree.

Never take a counteroffer.

Especially in this case…because if they counter then are they not in violation of their own rules?! If they counter…they are admitting to being liars as they actually could have paid you more initially.

Don’t work for liars…well…proven/admitted liars :slight_smile:

Sorry…I worked for 2 small employers in my life. Both times they were shocked when I gave notice. Coworkers/bosses should not be knowing that you are looking. Coworkers are not your friends. They are not family. They should not know much about your private life.

I also call BS on people willing to give up a raise to keep you. Sure, they may tell you that…but they don’t mean it. They either know they are not getting a raise (bad economy) or are saying something different to the boss. You are not cynical enough yet, young Padawan :slight_smile:

Very, very few people are willing to give up money to another person.

Why not? The OP has said that one benefit of working for this organization is that the hours are/were flexible. There’s no guarantee that would be the case somewhere else.

I think the OP needs to brush up his negotiating position, but there is nothing inherently wrong with accepting, or countering, a counter-offer. It’s a negotiation. That’s what you do.