Black Employee Confronts HR After Discovering That Her Co-Worker With The Same Job Title Is Making $3 More Than Her

When talking with HR, they didn't seem to give her a clear reason as to why this was the case.

close up of black employee having meeting with co-worker in office fizkes / Shutterstock

A Black woman named Kaylin shared her frustration after discovering that a co-worker was making more money than she was, despite the two having the exact same job title.

In a TikTok video, Kaylin Lavena recorded a meeting that she had with HR at her job, where she directly asked about the pay gap between her and another employee.

Lavena confronted HR after learning that her co-worker with the same job title earns $3 more than her.

"Raise your hand if you're meeting with HR today, on Valentine's Day during Black History Month, to discuss why there's a $3 pay difference between you and your co-worker," Lavena began in her video, raising her hand high in the air. She explained that not only does she share the same job title as this employee, but they also do the same amount of work and have the same expectations from their management.


There was basically no reason why there should be a pay gap in the first place, and demanding to get an explanation, she scheduled a virtual meeting with a woman who worked in the HR department. Setting up her camera to the side, Lavena recorded the entire interaction and was left frustrated to hear the supposed reasoning behind it.



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"What is the actual reason that he's being paid $3 more for the same role?" Lavena questioned. In response, the HR employee reassured Kaylin that she completely understood why this was an issue, insisting that she knew why Lavena was upset.

"When I looked into this, I wanna tell you that the discrepancy doesn't have anything to do with protective characteristics, like gender or race or anything like that," the HR employee told Lavena, whose face told it all. She didn't quite believe that.

The HR employee explained that the reason for the pay difference was that the company had started to recruit candidates with "less experience," seemingly insinuating that Lavena was hired with less experience than they were looking for and therefore was being paid less.

Lavena immediately interrupted, arguing that this reason wasn't true and the company was never recruiting people to work there who didn't have the necessary experience.


Black Employee Confronts HR After Learning Her Co-Worker Makes $3 MorePhoto: BGStock72 / Canva Pro

"I've given you the reasoning of why you two are at different rates, and as you know, it's unfortunate that we've changed compensation strategies," the HR employee continued, offering zero solutions or ways to fix the issue.

The employee appeared to just be trying to placate Lavena and remedy the situation so that it didn't escalate. But the best way to make sure the situation didn't, was to adjust Lavena's pay so that she was earning the wages that she deserved.


The virtual meeting between Kaylin and the HR employee ended with apologies being made from HR's side, insisting that this is just how the company pays their employees and that it has nothing to do with race. Calm and collected, Lavena didn't argue any further, allowing the call to end, but her experience wasn't unique.

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Black workers face a disproportionately high percentage of pay gaps and career setbacks compared to their white counterparts.

In 2019, PayScale analyzed differences in earnings between white men and men of color using data from a sample of 1.8 million employees surveyed between January 2017 and February 2019. Among the findings, it was observed that despite Black men climbing the corporate ladder, they still make less than equally qualified white men.

The data found that Black men had the largest "uncontrolled pay gap" relative to white men when comparing the average earnings of Black men and white men in the U.S. Black women, who face both gender and racial disparities in the workplace, typically make only 67 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.


This wage gap will typically cost Black women $1,891 per month, $22,692 per year, and $907,680 over a 40-year career, according to the National Women's Law Center. Not only are Black workers being underpaid, but they are also severely overrepresented in low-wage entry-level jobs and underrepresented in senior leader and executive roles.

According to McKinsey & Company, Black workers make up 12% of the entry-level workforce and just 7% of the managerial workforce. 

"Black workers, on average, are not being hired, promoted or paid according to what would signal their level of productivity based on their experience or their education," Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy, told CNBC Make It. "It impacts everything. It impacts your family’s economic security."


While it may seem trivial for Lavena to call a meeting with HR over a $3 pay gap, and that even if it's remedied, it's only a couple of dollars added to her paycheck, it definitely does matter. The $3 represents how that company sees Lavena and the work she does.

It illustrates how Black employees across the country are dealing with microaggressions like this in droves, and are then made to feel as if it's idiotic to address it.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.