Did The Employment Agency Deal Fairly With Me?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about unfair hire:

I found out that the employment agency I got my job through told my employer how much I was getting paid when they converted me to a permanent employee. This caused me to get $3 hour less than 2 other girls that started at the same time with less experience and education because they simply came from a different agency. I found this out when a coworker recently opened some personal mail and told me how much money they were making.

When she was being investigated for this action, this all came out, and when I asked my supervisor about it, she said she was told to bring us over at the same rate we were making before. I feel that the employment agency was not acting in my best interest by disclosing what they were paying me. The agency was charging way over $30 an hour for me to work at that company as a temp. Do you think I have any recourse against the employment agency for not acting in my best interest? After two years that $3 an hour with overtime adds up.

Signed, Three Dollars Less!

Dear Three Dollars Less!:

Three Dollars Less! You have a right to feel you should be hired at the same rate as your co-workers. Yet whether the temp employment agency can be held accountable for disclosing what they were paying you is debatable. Temp agencies are not agents for you as is the case for professional athletes and actors. They rather are working in their own behalf and that of their employers, not their temporary workers they subcontract. I doubt that you have a complaint against that agency unless you have in writing an agreement that they are in fact your personal agent.

The hard fact is that many employers hire at the rate the can get you, just as you might pay for child-care at the best rate you can find. Without a union or government established grades of pay, an individual hires in at what she/he can negotiate, and employers profit by the unwritten rule that what you and others are paid is to be kept secret. Now that you know you are paid less for the same kind of work being performed by coworkers with less education and experience, what will you do about it?

You have voiced this concern to your supervisor, but will you leave it at that? You supervisor should now speak up in your behalf if you are performing as well as your coworkers. Right? And are you not now your own agent?

Good agents speak up for their clients. They don’t tolerate what is obviously unfair. Will you politely and firmly speak to your supervisor about this? And request in writing that she/he get this changed with back pay? You probably will not get the back pay, but it is not unreasonable to request it. You also can ask that this be corrected soon, and if it is not, learn where you need to go to take your request higher. If this makes sense to you, think positively. Assume that your supervisor will do all possible to make it right. Working together with hands, head, and heart is not simply working solo; it is an interdependent cooperative mindset and process. It takes and makes big WEGOS. We will be rooting for you.

William Gorden