Can I sue my employer for paying me less than what they paid the person who previously held the same position?

This has occurred in two different positions in the same company. I am an African American female. In the first position, a caucasian male made more than I did in the same position and in the second position (the one I now hold) a caucasian woman who held this position before me made more than I do.


I have a BBA and so did the other two individuals. I've also completed half of my Master's program in Human Resources. The two individuals were both older than I am, which more than likely means they had more experience. The guy, who I worked under, before he left the company, commended my work ethic, by saying that I should've had his position. So now I am up for a promotion and they want to increase my salary by chump change. Even with the pay increase and extra duties, I will get paid over a dollar and fifty cents less than the lady who had the position that I have now. I am extremely frustrated.

Update 2:

Lose the fight? Lose the war? I really don't think so! A company who doesn't know how to treat their good employees will always lose. They choose not to consider my open availability in a college town nor the longevity of my youthfulness. My maturity, professionalism and integrity will all walk out the door once I find something better. And I've been working there for a while. I know how hard it is for them to find somebody good. Turnover rate is high. I can understand not being able to keep everyone you employ, but you should know how to treat your good employees when you get them. You know you have someone good when you appreciate their work ethic.

Update 3:

Believe it or not, it was my employer who compared my pay rate to others in other positions, pointing out that I already get paid more than these, so I should be happy with the chump change raise being offered. I have not mentioned to them that I know how much the person before me made and that they are trying to screw me. I don't have to tell them why I'm worth a raise, they are the ones who offered me this new made up position because they felt that the qualities I have shown has proven me able to take on more responsibilities. They can to me with an opportunity and then slapped me in the face with an insulting pay increase that leaves me a BBA recipient still earning less than $20,000 a year. They've opened this can of worms. I would not sue them even if that was a possibility, but I have allowed them to take advantage of all of my qualities; I've allowed them to experience my expertise. To all who works in management, when you experience someones expertise and you are barely paying

Update 4:

them, it is up to you to turn around and say, I want to keep this person, what must I do to retain them. It is now your turn, supervisor, to exceed their expectations----because when we underdogs decide to exceed your expectations, believe me, it was not just for 9 dollars an hour.

12 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    No, you can't (unless you can prove discrimination of a protected class, but that does NOT seems to be the case here).

    Also you said: "...more than likely means they had more experience." so that pretty much justify their higher salary.

    You can't set the previous person salary as a golden rule: you have no idea how long that person waited or fought to get to that point. Most likely your predecessors started with a lower salary and then got a rise based on performance and years of service. You are the "new person" so you can't start with the same salary that the "senior employee" had.

    Besides you are taking a bad attitude here: obviously they are not going to offer you the bigger salary as their first offer (they have no moral or legal obligation to do so); if you want the bigger salary then you need to earn it. So you either negotiate with them, or you take the job and ask for a rise after a reasonable amount.

    Also a BBA doesn't mean much these days in the USA: believe it or not there are thousands of BBA (and even M.A.) holders flipping burgers or unable to find a job at all.


    It sounds like you haven't voiced any of your concern to your employer. Have you? Or you just think they are going to read your mind? I mean: ranting here it's not going to get you anything.

    If you don't have the courage to negotiate a better deal then you don't deserve the rise or even the job. So you either ask for the rise, OR you politely turn down their offer, OR you just take it as is: your choice. But don't go around blaming everybody else for not giving you V.I.P treatment.

    And being good on your actual position doesn't necessarily mean you will do as well in the new position. So it's reasonable to start with a lower salary and then get a rise based on performance and experience.

  • 9 years ago

    How did you come accross priviledged confidential info in the first place? Look , when you are looking for a pay increase, DO NOT FOCUS ON WHAT OTHERS ARE GETTING.and PLEASE DO NOT PULL OUT THE RACE CARD. That's just wrong and sleazy and It comes across as immature, contentious, not very smart. If you want to earn more money, screw the others and have a meeting with your boss. Explain what you have done to deserve an increase is salary, the contributions that improved the business and what you feel is fair compensation. DO NOT MENTION other workers as it protrays you as a problem child and no one in management cares for those personality types. If you don't get the answer you are hoping form, it 's time to move on to another employer where they may be able to compensate you for what you feel you are worth. Good luck!

  • 9 years ago

    As much as I hate it too. Its all about 'the contract'. What is on your contract is what you'll get paid.

    The other people could have simply had more experience in the same area, could of been older, could have worked for the company, could of been claiming extra from the company. Also, your source... is this the people you are claming earned the money? You need to speak to your employer about this situation and take solid evidence with you, not Pat from Walmart who doesnt even know both the man and woman who worked before you.

    Best of Luck.

    Source(s): Personal Experience.
  • Betsy
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    You may be able to sue successfully. I'd suggest that you contact an employment attorney who represents employees. Attorneys don't usually charge for an initial consultation, but I'd suggest that you ask before setting up an appointment. It seems to me that you should at least talk with someone who has expertise in this area.

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  • Carl P
    Lv 7
    9 years ago


    No way, you agree to the wages when you sign on as an employee. What anyone else makes or made and their qualifications are not your business nor related to what you make. If you negotiated a lower salary, that is your problem.

  • 9 years ago

    It's doubtful you will even win the fight. They had more experience than you = case closed.

    There was a recent article in Money magazine about how to negotiate your salary. It think it would be beneficial for you to read it.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You can try but it depends on a lot of other things. It isn't illegal to pay you less than the previous person, although in some cases motivation to pay you less (discrimination) is illegal. Don't automatically assume it is discrimination, though. The previous people may just have been more qualified.

  • Judy
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    It's pretty common for someone new in a job to make less than a more experienced person who held the job before them.

  • 9 years ago

    An employer can pay you what ever they long as it's minimum wage or above.

    Men always get paid more for the same thing a woman can do......just the law of nature.

  • TedEx
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Have fun! You will win the fight but lose the war.

    You will probably get fired, and people will view you as a troublemaker in the workplace.

    If anyone hasn't told you black is "so yesterday, " being Hispanic is " in"

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