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Employment Today™


Dear Kathryn:

I've been biting my tongue, silently enduring my employer's exploitive actions while he pays big bucks to new hires that do the same job as me. My co-workers and I are not just resentful, we're livid and thinking of staging a walkout. We think, that by doing this as a group, we've more of a chance of getting matching salaries rather than an individual approach.

Is this practice going on in other companies or is our employer uniquely stupid?


Dear Tammy, Lynn, & Lisa:

Your frustration is understandable and the boat you're in is jammed with others sharing your same experience and resentment.

In a recent survey by internet company,, over 80% of workers surveyed responded that they didn't think their employer would give them the pay increases accorded new employees hired for the same job.

Why would employers insult and discourage current employees with this tactic? Desperation for new talent, is the answer. Today's employers are so eager to attract good, new talent that they'll offer tons of bucks and benefits. Unfortunately, alienating existing employees is the result.

I suggest you individually bring to your boss's attention your grievances. You should each privately present your accomplishments and express your disappointment with the blatant, unfair compensation plan in practice. The impact of several employees hitting him with the same grievance should move boss-man into action.

Don't threaten. Calmly explain it's discouraging, and certainly not motivational, for experienced employees to work side-by-side with unproven employees who are earning more.

If your boss doesn't see the light, you've no choice but to start to look elsewhere. There's no rule dictating what an employer must pay to current vs. new employees and you might just have to find an employer with more business savvy.

Dear Kathryn:

This company merger has proved to be the tidal wave ruining my career.

When I signed the employment contract with my original employer, it stated that if I stayed five years, a 10k bonus would be awarded on my anniversary. The company that took over my original employer doesn't believe in "employee contracts" and says it doesn't have to honor it!

I stuck with this lousy IT job and turned down lucrative offers just to collect my bonus. Don't they have to honor the original employer's contract?

PAUL W., Manchester, CT

Dear Paul:

The simple answer is one you may not like.

Henry Zaccardi of Shipman & Goodwin says the payment of the 10k is determined by the terms of the company merger. If the stock of your original employer was purchased by the current owner, they have to honor the contract, thus fork over 10k. If the new owner purchased the assets, the contract is worthless. You'll probably have to hire your own counsel to get the details of the purchase.

The good news is you've five stable years on your resume. You can parlay that stability into a bigger job offer elsewhere while still employed.

Dear Kathryn:

Old-timers are always groaning how employers don't respect them and discriminate. At twenty-six years old, I've got the same problem.

I've been with a small Internet company for three years and earned the title and duties of senior manager a year ago.

It's time to move on and I want a larger company experience under my belt but find human resource people laughing at my goals, telling me I'm not "ready". I've earned my stripes by working sixty hour weeks and feel I'm being discriminated against because I'm young.

What do I need? Wing-tip shoes and reading glasses?

STEVE R., Milford, CT

Dear Steve:

Your experience and letter just nailed one of the primary reasons young talent loves working in small companies-the ability to quickly prove yourself and gain recognition without a lot of corporate hoopla and politics stalling a fast-path career track.

While you've obviously earned your increased responsibilities because of your talent, new employers unfamiliar with you are naturally hesitant to believe you've amassed this savvy at such an early stage.

First make sure your personal, communication, and resume presentations are super polished. This is absolutely necessary to get the attention of a large corporation. In presenting your talents and accomplishments, it's imperative that you parallel them to what a larger company would need.

While I appreciate your desire to gain some big-firm experience, don't sneeze at other small, fast-growing hotshot firms during your new job search. Remember that smaller companies have the advantage of providing immediate exposure to budget handling, operation management, growth planning and execution. While you gain a few laugh lines, another small firm experience could prove invaluable.