I just found out that my coworker makes more money than I do, even though we both do the same kind of work. I have been here for longer, and I do a decent job. In fact, feel dejected and resentful towards my coworker. Should I tell my boss that I know my coworker makes more than I do?

I began working at a pharmaceutical research facility two years ago as a research associate making $20/hour. I was promoted to the position of junior research scientist and executive in April of 2016 at $32/hour. The promotion came with the promise that I would be given the opportunity to move up in a managerial position and receive a raise. Fast forward to this summer and I have been given all responsibilities of a manager, as we’re unable to fill the position after my manager resigned. We are considerably understaffed and so I am working overtime to meet the work demands. I have yet to receive a raise.

At my quarterly review a month ago, I was told the corporate wasn’t approving any raises at this time. Maybe after January 2018, I can expect a raise. Fair enough.

A week ago, my coworker told me he is making $45/hour. He was hired eight months ago, and like me has relevant work experience. We both have the same degree from the same university. We work at the same position with the same job responsibilities. And yet, I make $13 less.

The pay difference isn’t outrageous, per se. I am simply dumbfounded. Moreover, I am not able to focus on my work now that I have learned that I am not being fairly compensated. I did not choose to ask my worker’s wages, he confided in me. It is eating me up that my coworker makes more than I do. What can I do to earn my worth? Should I tell my boss that I know my coworker earns more money than I do?

Help!

ASK THE EXPERTS: My coworker makes more than I do!

You’re doing the job of a manager and aren’t getting your worth. You have the skills, the work experience, and you also mentioned that you’re understaffed. Moreover, at your quarterly review, you were told that the corporate won’t be giving any raises this year. None of these are good signs.

(FYI: It’s not illegal to discuss wages with your coworker.)

If you work hard for nothing but praise you’ll receive nothing in return but praise, and altogether you won’t even get a raise. You may have your best interests at heart, but you’ll also need to solidify your position as a working professional to get your worth. Here’s how to handle the situation professionally.

STEP 1: ASSESS WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU

As frustrating as it is, there might be a fair reason why your coworker makes more money than you do. Perhaps the market value for the position has risen since you were hired, and so the company had to offer more to newer applicants. If you didn’t negotiate the salary well, that could also explain the pay difference between you two.

Find out the likely reason for the salary difference, so you can take corrective measures to get your worth. For instance, you could take classes to improve your skills. Or, you could ask your boss to divide the responsibilities between you two, so you’re even on the ground with your coworker who makes more money.

STEP 2: RESEARCH HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD BE MAKING

Arm yourself with data that can help you get a raise. Visit salary search sites to assess the fair market value for your job, based on location, experience, and education level. Once you know how much you should be making, ask for a raise. Do not use your coworker’s salary as the reason why you deserve a better raise. Keep the focus on your performance instead of comparisons between you and the coworker.

Here are some tips to help you when you’re asking for a raise: How to Successfully Negotiate a 50% Pay Raise

STEP 3: MOVE ON OR TAKE LEGAL ACTION

If your raise is denied, consider asking for benefits such as flexible hours or working from home. If you feel you deserve a raise, be prepared to quit your job. Again, base your decision on what you think your worth is, rather than what your coworker is making.

Salary revelations often lead to pay inequalities. If you believe you’re a victim of wage discrimination, file a complaint with the Equal Employee Opportunity Commission.

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