Mind the Ledbetter Gap

Quick read for some “man’s approach” v. “woman’s approach” action.  See the Ledbetter Gap–the idea that employees’ ordered preferences may explain salary disparity better than employer psychology–play out before your very eyes.

From ATL:

Dear ATL,

Like many 2009 grads, I’m jobless, but not workless. I started an unpaid internship for a local government in January. They’ve been giving me a full caseload (as much as they give other employed attorneys), but no indication that they’re ready to hire me. At what point should I take a stand? And what should I say?

Taxation without Representation

Comes her response:

Dear Taxation Without Representation,

Nothing is more infuriating than when people expect you to do the job for which you were hired. When you accepted the unpaid internship two months ago, you sent SEVERAL telepathic messages indicating that you would accept the job on the condition that it would transform into a paid position in eight weeks or less. Even though you agreed to work for free in exchange for valuable resume-building experience, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be entitled to a salary, 20 vacation days and a lump sum gross-up for accrued hours to date.Your employer’s failure to acquiesce to these reasonable demands is outrageous and potentially illegal.

If you bring the payment issue up with your job head on, they’ll probably use underhanded tactics like citing to your “internship agreement” or your “eight weeks on the job.” Seasoned attorneys will recognize these as red herrings, but lawyers with less experience like you may fall prey to such specious arguments. Accordingly, your best bet is to drop subtle hints that you’d like to get paid. That may mean changing your name to a symbol and writing the word “slave” on your cheek or spending lunch hour singing chain gang work songs and pretending to dig a ditch by the vending machines. If you still fail to get the message across, you can quit and become a hero to all interns who resent the very nature of their engagements. Or, you can spend the rest of your internship being an intern.

Your friend,


While he replies:

Sure, listen to Marin. Play it safe, accept your limitations, remain beaten and cowardly. Hell, while your at it why not just buy ladies scented body wash and start watching Leno. I mean, if you listen to Marin, it won’t be long before life officially passes you by. Just make it obvious so people with important things to do don’t waste any of their precious time on you.
Look man, fortune favors the bold. Nobody is going to give you anything in this life, you have to stand up and take it. Reach down towards your crotch and see if there is anything dangling there. Are you solid? If so, I think it’s time you started to stake your own claim to this world. There’s a Guinness commercial about this.

Of course you should ask for the money. What’s the worse that can happen? They say “no”? Who cares? Only losers and Democrats are afraid of the word “no.” Winners understand that “no” is just a starting point; it’s the beginning of a negotiation, not the end.

Nobody wants to pay for anything these days. It makes perfect sense to me that government expects you to work for free. Obviously, you had to agree to those terms in order to get in the door. No matter how little you think you can live on, there’s always some competitor willing to do your job for just a little bit less. But now that you have your foot all up in the door, you should absolutely try to get some money out of it.

You don’t think you are worthless, do you? Of course not. I’d walk in there with nothing but my d*** in my hand and tell them to put the money on the table.

— The Confidence Man


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