Author Topic: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?  (Read 1148 times)

Igelfreundin

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Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« on: October 25, 2021, 02:01:15 PM »
I am a manager, and have recently discovered (as additional employees were transferred to my team) that we are underpaying at least three of my employees by around 10% or more. And, as is too often the case, all three of them are people of color. I am angry about this, and have advocated with HR to rectify the situation by giving the three of them raises. I haven't gotten a refusal, but I have been getting the runaround for the past two and a half months.

Can I (and should I) file a complaint with the EEOC? I have read that you can file a complaint on behalf of someone else, but this is privileged information, which I have access to only as a supervisor. My employee handbook says that I cannot disclose salary information except in response to a formal complaint, in furtherance of an investigation, or if it's legally required to do so.

I will FIRE early next year, and HR knows that, so I don't much care if my company finds out and doesn't like me. But I would like to know if I'm possibly breaking the law by disclosing salaries to the EEOC, or if anyone has experience with situations like this that might be helpful.

merula

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 02:08:08 PM »
It depends on your state. I would call an employment practices attorney.

Can you encourage your team to share salaries? Point out that that's a protected activity (many may not know that), point to salary aggregators, or to job postings in Colorado, if your company has employees there? Employees in Connecticut can also get pay band information under a new law, which seems likely to be copied by other states the same way banning asking for current salary was.

sailinlight

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 02:20:31 PM »
I think the details really matter. Are you talking about one makes $8/hr and the other make $7, or are these professional salaries above $100k? I work for a largish corporation and have a few employees on my team that have been severely underpaid according to their level of contribution compared to others for a few years. I'm fighting with management over it, and they are working on rectifying the situation, but it's a long slow process due to max pay raises and other dumb corporate rules. And the difference is way over 10%. It seems weird to involve authorities, if these employees feel like they're not paid correctly, they can find other jobs that pay more elsewhere.

MudPuppy

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 02:42:32 PM »
Iím not sure how your employer works these things out, but in my supervisory days you couldnít do an EEO complaint on someone elseís behalf, but you COULD call in as a whistleblower to the ethics hotline.

Villanelle

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2021, 03:21:11 PM »
I think the details really matter. Are you talking about one makes $8/hr and the other make $7, or are these professional salaries above $100k? I work for a largish corporation and have a few employees on my team that have been severely underpaid according to their level of contribution compared to others for a few years. I'm fighting with management over it, and they are working on rectifying the situation, but it's a long slow process due to max pay raises and other dumb corporate rules. And the difference is way over 10%. It seems weird to involve authorities, if these employees feel like they're not paid correctly, they can find other jobs that pay more elsewhere.

Absolutely.  Also, if their bosses are pressuring them for sex with a threat that they may be fired if the don't comply, they should find other jobs elsewhere. Or if working conditions are unsafe, or they are being asked to do illegal things. 

/s Or not.  If they are being discriminated against, the onus shouldn't be on them to go out and find an employer who isn't breaking the law. 

OP, I'm not sure what I would do.  If appropriate, I'd try to convince them to share salaries or otherwise try to nudge them toward the truth.  If that didn't work, I might look at the wording of that agreement.  It says you can't share salaries, but telling someone they make less then most of the team isn't quite sharing salaries.  I might also look for an anonymous way to be a whistleblower.  There will be some risk toward you with any of these approaches, but that's sometimes the price of using privilege to do the right thing. 

« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 03:45:11 PM by Villanelle »

youngwildandfree

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2021, 03:31:22 PM »
Another vote for encouraging them to discuss salaries with one another. You can even do this in a group setting without targeting people, just bring it up as a team building exercise. This would be risky if you were hoping to maintain your position long term, but if you are leaving next year it seems like an easy way to encourage folks to advocate for themselves in your absence. Discussing pay gaps and how talking to coworkers can close them, especially with the whole group, cannot possibly fall under handbook rules.

FIFoFum

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2021, 07:57:05 PM »
Not offering legal advice - insert suitable disclaimer here.

My understanding is that you CAN file a complaint on behalf of someone else, and, of course, then - by definition - your company can't block you from doing so.

However, I don't know that you SHOULD file this as an EEOC complaint. If HR is deliberately dragging their feet, then going to the EEOC also has a good chance of bouncing back on the supervisees that you are trying to advocate for. In theory, everyone gets whistleblower protection. In reality, the exact same factors that have led to the disparate pay also act to hurt people from speaking out when discriminated against & punish them for efforts to fix things.

This situation is pinging my "white privilege/white savior" radar in that I wouldn't presume that going the legal/EEOC route would actually be beneficial or welcome.

I wouldn't be so sure to think that your new team members DON'T know that they are being discriminated against in pay, and I wouldn't be so quick to think that they would welcome an EEOC complaint on their behalf. [Of course, it's better to be able to talk to people instead of assuming one way or the other.]

Can you push HR to act by using the potential of filing complaints/publicizing this info without actually doing it?

Also, I feel like this situation is a good askamanager question to send to Allison Green.

Igelfreundin

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2021, 05:58:54 PM »
Thanks for all your replies, but especially to FIFoFum. I had not considered how a possible complaint could be used against my employees, and I appreciate the reminder to respect everyone's agency. I think my next step will to encourage them to talk to each other, reminding them the silence about salaries mainly benefits employers, not employees. I can give that a few months to play out and decide if I want to make any other moves after that.

Sibley

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2021, 09:08:31 PM »
Going to second that you might want to take this to askamanager.org. Either send to Allison, or post in a Friday open post (post EARLY in the day). But your immediate plan is a good one I think.

mistymoney

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Re: Can I file an EEOC complaint on behalf of my supervisees?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2021, 10:00:45 AM »
I would keep lobbying through HR. 2/3 months isn't a long time as those things are usually glacial.

Ask for a timeline for rectifying this. Point out to HR that the company is opening itself up to possible litigation on discrimination, that ususally gets the ball rolling at least a little quicker.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!