5 Common Reasons for Employer Pay Discrimination

5 Common Reasons for Employer Pay Discrimination

Pay discrimination, also known as wage discrimination, involves paying someone less than someone else due to some form of bias. To help you better understand what wage bias looks like and why it may occur, read on to learn five common reasons for employer pay discrimination.


Sometimes, when an employer reduces an employee’s salary, they may be doing so to punish the said employee as revenge. When an employer does this, the act is known as retaliation, especially if done because the employee engaged in a protected act. Protected acts include, but are not limited to, taking PTO, reporting a crime, using allotted benefits, and more. For example, if an employer reduces an employee’s salary because they reported the employer to HR for sexual harassment, that is retaliation.

Gender or Sexuality Discrimination

For cis women, pay discrimination can occur due to a question of ability. For trans women, or genderfluid people, questions of ability may also occur, but it is most often due to prejudice. The same applies to different sexualities, usually against sexualities not considered outwardly heterosexual and monogamous. Employers may use pay discrimination to subtly spite a person’s identity they disagree with.

Race, Ethnicity, or Origin Based Discrimination

It is important to note that race, ethnicity, and origin are different things and can all be reasons for a hateful employer to discriminate against you. Racial discrimination, or racism, is prejudice against a person for their physical characteristics, such as skin color. Ethnic discrimination is prejudice against cultural characteristics, such as discrimination against women who wear hijab, though this may bleed into religious discrimination. Origin-based discrimination is prejudice against the place where someone was born, regardless of physical characteristics or identification. Again, an employer may reduce an employee’s wage to discriminate against these people.

Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination can be hard to pinpoint, as being able to tell someone’s religion can be difficult without knowing them personally. However, for those who regularly wear religious garments, this can put a target on their backs for prejudiced employers. They may use pay discrimination to force an employee out. Some employers would rather get in trouble for pay discrimination than get marked as prejudiced.

Ageism or Ableism

Ageism is discrimination against someone’s age, and ableism is discrimination against a physical or mental disability. Usually, employers look at age or disability and question how well that person can do the job. Again, an employer may use pay discrimination to force an unwanted employee out because they can’t fire them with good reason. This is especially so for senior employees who have worked long-term for companies, and employers may want “fresh blood.”

Even though these are just a few common reasons for employer pay discrimination, they almost always have the same root of prejudice and misplaced anger. If you believe you’ve experienced wage discrimination for any reason here or reasons not listed, you need a pay discrimination lawyer to help you get things sorted out once and for all.

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