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Salary - (Mar/02/2010 )

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I found out I was under paid (by a lot) considering that I'm a PhD with 15 years of experience behind me.
I also found out that the regulations dealing with salaries here are very fuzy and can end up being very unfair. For exemple, a person hired now for a position X in my team would earn the same amount as a person who's been here for 5 years in this position. I asked the supervisors to raise my salary but it's not happening. The mentality lately is "be happy you have a job and don't complain". I know this is true but I can't help feeling angry and frustated. I take this attitute as a huge lack of respect, especially considering the fact that I do a pretty good job here.
I used to consider this place almost like a second family where people helped and supported each other. Now I am getting bitter and I can't help it. I try to remind myself that my salaray isn't bad. It just kills me to earn less than a colleague with no PhD and 5 years of lab experience. Also, I am a foreigner and can't help feeling that there wouldn't be such problem with an American employee.
What would you do? I guess I should write a letter but I'm not sure I would do a good job at being diplomatic.
I don't want to sound "demanding" as it would backfire, but I also don't want to go on doing nothing.


It does sound unfair to you. You should really talk to your boss and ask a pay hike. Many institutes in the US have strict policy regarding equal pay.


The very first thing I would do is have a look at your institute/university's pay regulations, and then the regulations of the state you are living in also. Is there some union or employee services that you can contact for help with this?
Find out exactly what your rights are so that you have the information to back you up.

Then I would have another (non-emotional, non-angry) chat with your employer about your concerns, be firm but not agressive. Ask for what you want and then give him/her time to think about it. Have evidence for why you think you are worth this pay rise (ie experience, work successes, work ethic etc), as well as evidence for why it is unfair to continue to pay you less (ie regulations, people with less qual doing same job for more etc). Don't demand an answer straight away. Try not to play the blame game.

You don't say what country you are in, but is there some kind of organisation that deals with employee rights etc that you could talk to? You may need to take it further and they could advise you as to the best avenues to go down.

Of course, if the pay is within the rules and regulations- and there is no chance of a raise, then you need to have a good think about what to do next. If your resentment and bitterness is going to build, you will end up miserable and you don't want to be in a job that you hate going to everyday. You may need to look elsewhere.

And most of all try not to take it personally!

Edit: oh sorry, I see you are from the US in your info now ;) , I don't know much about pay scales and employee rights in the US, but I wish you good luck in getting what you feel you deserve!


Allez, courage Maddie :P...but haven't you mentioned before that you're working for the US gov't, therefore one would think that the rule regarding equal pay is strictly enforced where you are. Besides, you're probably paid from "hard" funds, hence, the more reason why you shld be paid what is fair and what you deserve. Dispensing salaries from "soft" funds sometimes has the potential for exploitation but that's another story.

As both pcrman and leelee advised, it's better to have another go at negotiating with your supervisors for a pay increase and as pointed out too- do your homework first so you'd have a good position at the bargaining table. If this still doesn't work out then you decide if you want to take it a step further- thru the grievance/arbitration committees but this would be a big official step so be ready with all your documentations as well as for all the hassles this would generate. But whatever you decide--bonne chance...



it's funny how some people (esp those in THE position) can think or say that we shld be happy to have a job and that we shld just take whatever unfair salary they want to give...ppfftt...I just wonder if they themselves can accept a cut in their salaries?


Came across this last week: salery negotiation. Sounds quite good to me, so probably this helps you setting up your letter.

For everything else I can just agree with my previous posters: you should go for another round of negotiations, as this should not happen esp. in governmental institues....I do not know the american system myself, but I would go to our equal-rights-office (or anti-discrimination-office whatever is the right term in English) and ask them for advice, and as last way out ask them to help me officially.


Thank you all, very much. Venting is healthy :lol: .
My employer is a contractor for the Army, so I'm not a federal employee with clear GS status unfortunately.
I went to my employer's web page and there is nothing about salary. I just asked info to our HR lady. We'll see if she responds. :(


Hi Maddie,

I know exactly how you feel. I had the same feelings--and the comments from the other posters are completely true. One way I dealt with it was to bring it up at my performance review. It is very important to have a rational argument (and non-emotional) and present why you deserve a pay raise (other than it being fair).
Be careful not to use 'I" a lot or "me" as in "I kept your lab functioning" or "My lack of having a life allowed this work to continue". It sounds whiny and makes those listening think that you are defensive.

Hope that helps. Good luck!


My performance reviews are always really good. I have "outstanding" in almost every category.
You're right, I should say I need the raise because of my work and not because I earn less than others with less experience. Thanks a lot. Without your words of advise, I would have totally whined and I should know better.
Strange of stategy. Let's see if it pays...
You guys rock. I'm so glad I found this forum.


Hi everyone,

An update on this issue. Answer I got " everybody wants a raise" :P .
Looks like they don't want to understand...what a surprise.


c'est pas juste, eh Maddie.....but you'd never know until you ask. At least you were assertive in letting them know what you want. Perhaps, when things get better economically, i.e., they'd give you that salary you deserve. Meanwhile, try not to feel demoralised and focus on doing your job the same way as before (I know, I know- easier said than done :))....goodluck...

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