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Take and retain notes on salary negotiations

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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 that causes 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.), she may fire off a pay discrimination claim.

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

The notes are your primary evidence that there was no discrimination going on—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 they were earning 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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