Pay Discrimination: What To Do If It's Happening To You.

You might have heard a lot in the news lately about pay discrimination, particularly as it pertains to the wage gap. In Canada, women are still paid 87 cents to the man's $1! Pay discrimination comes in many forms. The existence of wage disparities involve some complex factors that point to social inequalities at large.

Pay or compensation discrimination occurs when employees performing similar work do not receive similar pay. Pay discrimination can occur if you’ve been an employee for many years, or if you are brand new. Bottom line is, pay discrimination means your bottom line doesn’t match someone else doing the same job with the same expertise and experience.

Find out how you can make sure you’re being valued in the workplace:

Know your rights:

Pay equity is a human right protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). In Canada, everyone is entitled to receive equal pay for work of equal value. Federal law looks to see that individuals performing jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and under similar working conditions are compensated equally for their time. Job content should inform pay more than job title.

How do you know you are being unfairly paid?

There are much better ways to find out whether you are getting the same compensation than snooping through your co-worker’s desk (don’t do that). But you CAN talk to co-workers, HR, or approach your boss. Remember, under the Employment Standards Act, an employer cannot punish you in any way for asking other employees about their rates of pay to find out if your boss is providing equal pay for equal work. Same goes for disclosing your own rate of pay to another employee.

You also have to remember that there are exceptions. Even if employees of different sexes, ethnic background or age are doing equal work, they can be paid different rates of pay if the difference is due to:

• a seniority system

• a merit system

• a system that measures earnings by production quantity or quality

For instance, someone that has been working for longer than you has (hopefully) received a raise or two over the years. Employees who perform equal work can also be paid different rates of pay if the difference is based on any other factor other than sex.

You find out you are being paid less for the same work, barring the exceptions – now what?

Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t go charging into your boss’s office – even though you are justly feeling angry and hurt. Take some time to clear your head and think about how you’ll make your approach. If you are aware of your rights, if believe in yourself and your worth, and take all of the proper steps, you can fight for fair pay and win. Your next step will be to decide who is the best person to speak to – which is up for you to decide, knowing your workplace and how it runs. Is it your boss, or HR? Schedule a meeting where you can speak up, address the issue, and ask for a raise.

If you feel that your rights are being violated and don’t feel you can approach your boss, try having a talk with your Human Resources department. Should expert advice be needed, you should contact an employment lawyer. If your employer still is not complying with the equal pay for equal work provisions after you’ve tried to resolve the issue, you can file a claim with the Ministry of Labour.

What resources are out there?

Do your homework to figure out what the industry standard wage for your job is, including education, experience, location, and how long you have worked there for. There’s a lot of information out there available to you, and some good resources to check what you should be making are:,6_IN3.htm

For more info on employment standards and your rights, check out:

Alberta Employment Standards:

Occupational Health and Safety:

Alberta Federation of Labour:

Government of Canada Labour:

Alberta Human Rights Commission:


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