update: my male coworker makes more money than I do

Remember the letter from the person whose new male coworker was making significantly more than her to do the same job? Here’s the update.

The new coworker, Fergus, was legitimately the worst. I’m still cleaning up the mess three months later. New Manager continued being awful until I complained enough about Fergus to make him, y’know, manage the guy. When he finally made it clear that Fergus was going to need to shape up … Fergus quit. Good riddance.

I did get confirmation through a colleague that Fergus was being paid more than me — $50k to my $42k. When I asked about it, the justification was “That was the rate we were given by the temp company we hired him from.” I pointed out to our faux-HR Lady that a good manager would have recognized the potential problems with that kind of discrepancy, and made sure my pay was raised to a commensurate degree to avoid the appearance of discrimination. She agreed that was true.

(A million thanks to commenter Jennifer M. for commenting about the unsolicited pay bump her manager gave her to avoid a gender-based pay gap. Clearly, that made an impression.)

All that kind of made me realize that the real problem here was New Manager’s total lack of management skill. I put a lot of thought into what it would take to make me happy with this job, and came up with three things: the team lead position, a raise, and not working under New Manager anymore. With some guidance and moral support from Faux-HR Lady (who is wonderful, she just hates being a faux-HR lady), I wrote a letter to global management and global HR to make my case for those things. Faux-HR spoke to them directly to advocate for me as well.

Almost instantly, New Manager was no longer my manager. I was given a schmancy new job description, which includes a higher level of responsibility and a direct report. I am now managed by some very nice gentlemen in England who do things like listen and care and help. It’s refreshing.

My new job title has the word “Global” in it, as well as “Manager.” (That’s generally in the context of managing processes, not people. Thankfully.) The hiring process for my direct report has been placed directly in my hands. I’ve only pooped my pants in terror, like, once.

Aaaaaaaand… (drumroll please)…..




So once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You and the commentariat helped me find enough backbone to keep fighting and advocating for myself, and it’s made a HUGE difference.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

    1. M-C*

      Wonderful! A better outcome could not be had. Thank you for such a great report OP, and congratulations!

  1. Edith*

    I, for one, am looking forward to the next update wherein LW discusses the invoice she got from Alison for consulting fees and demanding a cut of the raise in perpetuity.

    1. Not Fergus' Boss (OP)*

      Do you think she’d accept “telling everyone I meet how awesome this blog is forever” as a sort of quid pro quo compensation? :)

    1. Not Fergus' Boss (OP)*

      Oh, WhiteBear! I… What? No, I’m not crying… I just got some…uh, some feelings in myeyesexcusemeIneedtogo

  2. Lillie Lane*

    Wow, this is great. And thanks OP for an encouraging story about asking for what you want and getting it! I will need to bookmark this update for inspiration.

    1. Jess1216*

      Was thinking the same thing! It’s nice to know that there are reasonable and rational managers out there.

    2. Helena*

      We need a “Justice is served” tag on this site, starting with this post and the middle-of-the-night-airport-boss-got-fired post.

  3. AndersonDarling*

    What a fantastic update! It’s funny how we can feel like we’re at an awful company, but it really is just an awful corner of the company and if you reach out, everything can change for the better. Woo Hoo!
    And “pooped my pants in terror” made my day.

  4. Is it Friday Yet?*

    Wow OP good for you for thinking about what it would take to really make you happy and then going after it. That’s not something that many people do. Sounds like your hard work really paid off. I hope others will read this and be encouraged by your story.

    1. k*

      As someone who tends to fall in the timid/doormat category, stories like this are very inspiring! Something I will be keeping in my mental file to refer to next time I need to be brave in the workplace.

    2. Artemesia*

      It is surprising how often the key to getting what you want is A. knowing what you want B. asking for it clearly. And in the workplace if you couch asking for it with how it will aid your productivity so you can make greater contributions that also increases the odds.

    3. ZenJen*

      Yes, I love this part of the letter, because it’s really thinking what the best outcome should be! and YES the $$$$$$$$!

  5. Tracye*

    What a satisfying result to a harrowing tale. This proves that women are empowered in the work place. If we want something in Corporate America, all we have to do is ask for it.

    1. LBK*

      Or rather, this proves how much stupid BS women have to go through to get stuff men take for granted, and just how much more work we still have to do as a society to lift that burden of asking off of women.

    2. designbot*

      I would be careful extrapolating that this somehow shows “all we (women) have to do”–this shows what one woman at one company had to do. As others have pointed out, she had to do rather a lot to get what someone less effective was offered without a fight. And there’s nothing that suggests broader applicability here–she had an unusually supportive HR person in her corner, as well as foreign management/ownership that often have different sensibilities about the manager’s role in the workplace, neither of which is the case for most of us.

      1. New Bee*

        Yes! We can celebrate one woman’s success while also continuing to acknowledge and challenge systemic barriers.

        *And let’s not forget intersectionality while we’re at it.

          1. ThatLawChick*

            Congratulations OP!!! Whoo-hoo!

            Also, while there are points on both sides — yes, all women suffer; no, this is one woman’s tale — I can note that from a behind-the-scenes perspective, this is all too frequent. I work in a law firm handling corporate work related to the sale/purchase of businesses. The due diligence done before the sale/purchase typically involves exchanging employee lists. These includes name, salary, and job title. In 2016, EVERY SINGLE LIST I saw showed women earning less than men for the same job. Maybe skill or experience levels warranted this, but who knows? Keep tooting the horn of this blog, readers. Many workers need Alison’s advice and your support.

            1. designbot*

              to clarify, I think the struggles are common enough to be considered representative, it’s the fix that feels like an anomaly. LW got a lot of support that I don’t think your average worker has access to.

    1. Not Fergus' Boss (OP)*


      As someone mentioned a little bit upthread, I mostly focused on how having this particular man as a manager was impacting my productivity and my career. I pointed out how long I’d been with the company (almost two years), how much I loved my work and wanted to continue/do more, and how much I would hate to leave… but I have this manager who I believe will do permanent and lasting damage to my career, and I’ve realized I’ll have to resign if I’m expected to work under him.

      This was followed by a veritable laundry list of concrete examples of damage done to my career – including allowing Fergus to undermine and discredit my work, not intervening when asked to, willfully ignoring my needs and opinions at every turn, etc.

      In my opinion, the best example was when I told him I’d been contacted by the global service team to lend my expertise on some processes and plans they were trying to streamline for an upcoming project. They reached out to me specifically on the recommendation of another coworker. Manager forbade me from speaking to them, urged me to cancel the conference call I’d *already agreed to*, and insisted that I direct them to him if they were to contact me again. I pointed out how damaging it would have been to my career had I followed his instructions, as well as how demeaning it was to be so grossly unsupported.

      Oh and by the way: I completely disregarded his “orders” on that matter. The people who reached out to me are now my bosses. Insubordination FTW.

      1. Old Admin*

        Hooray! Hooray! Hooraaayyyy!
        Well done. All of it.

        AAM is a truly wonderful resource, and gives me courage to go and do things for my own work.


        … I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :-)

  6. Gingervitis*

    I cannot help but notice that the best updates are from the writers who actually took Alison’s advice. She knows what she’s talking about!

  7. Venus Supreme*

    Hell yeah, OP! Look at you, livin’ life with a new job title, direct report, new British managers, a mother-effin’ raise, and minimally-pooped pants!!! I’m SO excited for you. Congrats, soak it up, and keep being a BOSS!

  8. Tennessee INFP*

    Alison – what recourse would someone have if they were in this same situation but were of the same gender? I also wondered could the company get away with this since Fergus quit and they were no longer paying him that salary, would this squash OP’s right to more pay?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No legal recourse if you’re the same gender (unless you can show you’re being paid differently because of your race, religion, or other protected characteristic). The laws are intended to combat discrimination based on specific protected characteristics, not unfairness in general.

      So in that case, you’d leave the law out of it but would put together a case for a raise based on whatever other evidence you had.

    2. Artemesia*

      If a newbie with no more credential is paid more — often this happens as market rates change — then you make the case not based on discrimination but on equity but most important focused on your own work. I once got a 30% raise that way as because of a merger and changes in the market etc I and people who came in when I did were way out of line low in salary compared to later hires. All of my peers were laid off in the merger and that left me out of sync. (I was laid off too but slithered back in sideways — think of me as the woman with the red stapler) The 30% didn’t make me rich or even well paid but at least made my salary similar to people in similar positions and I got 10% the next year.

      1. Important Moi*

        Apologies if I appear daft. I’ve looked up “the woman with red stapler” , I don’t understand. Does this mean they didn’t realize they needed you (and your skill set) until after you left?

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          I believe Artemesia is referring to the character in “Office Space” (who loved is red stapler) who managed to stay employed after being laid off several times.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Its actually kind of funny and sad. The guy with the red stapler was laid off but kept coming to work anyway.

            Sometime I will tell you all about the time I was fired and didn’t notice.

    1. Not Fergus' Boss (OP)*

      It really, really did. After I read your comment I kinda realized that, huh, that really is the whole POINT of non-discrimination laws, isn’t it? For people to proactively make sure they’re not being discriminatory? Even toward existing employees? Duh?

      So yeah… it was kinda mind-blowing in an “Oh yeah, that’s the way it should be everywhere all the time” sort of way. Knowing that’s what SHOULD HAVE happened made me feel a lot less crazy for being upset over what DID happen.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    An update documenting that sometimes there actually is justice in the world. It’s a freaking Christmas miracle!

  10. Greg M.*

    Sounds like someone took one look at the situation and realized what a moron the other guy was. Good on the higher ups for handling it. Good on HR Lady for standing up for you. Good on you for kicking ass.

  11. Emac*

    Awesome update! I’m still learning how to know and ask for what I want, so this is definitely an inspiration!

  12. Not Fergus' Boss (OP)*

    Oh you guys! Staaaawp.

    I know I said this in the update, but seriously – the support of the commenters here made all the difference, not to mention Alison’s advice to me and many of the other letter-writers. It was a long, hard fight – much longer and harder than I thought it would be, or SHOULD be for that matter. But, as it turns out, I have somehow developed a super-stubborn streak that seems to have served me well. It also helped that I really had nothing to lose – I was ready to quit anyway, so when I threatened to leave if things didn’t improve, it was pretty clear I wasn’t bluffing.

    Happy Solstihanukwaaanzaramamas, everyone. Give ’em hell and take no shit. :)

    1. Lizabeth*

      Happy Solstihanukwaaanzaramama – I LOVE IT! This has tons of potential applications: mugs, ugly sweaters, holiday cards…

    2. zora*

      1st, you are hilarious. <3<3<3

      2nd, in my family we use "Christmasolstikwanzikkah" ;o) So Happy Happy Christmasolstikwanzikkah and all of the rest of them!

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      OP, I’m so happy for you—you are kicking butt, taking names, and saving the Year of the Horrible Boss!

  13. Colorado*

    Yay!!! You go girl (and I mean that in an endearing way)! It’s so great to advocate for yourself and see results. So happy to read this today as I’m trying to tell myself, “You are worth it, stop the voices that are telling you otherwise”.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I love that, too.
      OH! let’s open a Tea Room. We’ll call it “Wakeen’s Commentariat.”

  14. Anna*

    This is so wonderful. You didn’t just help your own situation you educated your company about fairness, equality and how to retain top talent while demanding managers actually manage. So happy to hear this.

  15. MC*

    If this helped you find your stubborn streak – awesome. If you knew you had it and put it to good use – super awesome. Great update.

  16. The Bimmer Guy*

    Sweet! I love this update, and I’m glad the Powers That Be were reasonable and supported you, instead of fighting back.

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