How to avoid the salary negotiation trap

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in Hiring,Human Resources,Salary Negotiating,Workplace Communication

In a free-market system, it sometimes takes extra money to entice an applicant to jump ship. That’s all part of the hiring dance.

But sometimes those extra dollars cause an existing employee to earn less than a new employee who holds the same job. If that existing employee belongs to a protected class (race, sex, age, etc.), he or she may fire off a pay discrimination claim.

That’s when interview notes documenting the negotiations come in handy. Justify your reasons, using quotes from the back-and-forth haggling. Notes must be made at the time of the discussion, not cobbled together later.

The notes are your evidence that no discrimination occurred—just the give and-take of the free-market system.

Recent case: A black employee at Burlington Coat Factory sued, claiming she was paid less than her white colleagues.

But the chain was prepared with interview notes that showed each of the white co-workers had been hired from outside and had negotiated higher starting salaries than at their previous jobs. Burlington had offered them higher salaries to induce them to quit.

The court said that was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory explanation for the pay disparities—not discrimination. (Drake-Sims v. Burlington Coat Factory, No. 08-13618, 11th Cir., 2009)

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