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I asked for a document and was inadvertently sent my information - along with the rest of my coworkers and my managers. It’s everyone's salary and commission structure, so I was rather surprised that I make considerably less than my counterparts. I cannot get over it and it irritates me to no end but I have no idea what to do. In some cases the pay difference is $20,000 and more. I want to ask why, but don’t want to get fired :/

[Additional text from (now-deleted) self-answer]
I just knew everyone was going to say something like well do they have more experience than you do they bring more value than you do and I just wanted to shut that down.

It’s a very heavy situation and I did ask for a raise in January For the same reason I pointed out and they told me that financially that wouldn’t happen and that I should be assured that I am paid in line with everyone else. I then was given a reduced commission structure and told if I didn’t sign it I wouldn’t have a job. That’s why when I got the email by mistake I was like is this heavenly intervention to but now I just wish I never saw it.

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    I think the question was better before the edit. The second paragraph’s rant:relevance ratio is a bit skewed – thehole Jun 27 at 0:57
  • I might suggest trimming the second paragraph and clarifying that it's not your overall pay but base salary that's different. Through commissions you seem to be recovering the difference, no? – Max Jun 27 at 1:00
  • There's a pending edit (and I'm undecided whether it should be approved), but once that's resolved I suggested editing the title to "I was mistakenly sent coworkers' salaries". It makes it clearer that they were sent to you, not that you sent them yourself. – Keith Thompson Jun 27 at 1:20
  • How are the salaries aligned around gender lines? – Stephan Branczyk Jun 27 at 1:22
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    I mistakenly received my coworkers salary information – joeqwerty Jun 27 at 3:13
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I would disclose the security breach to management and HR. It's not your mistake, it's someone else's. Besides, if it happened this time with you, if you don't say anything, it will happen again with someone else.

In some cases the pay difference is $20,000 and more. I want to ask why, but don’t want to get fired :/

Don't ask why. You don't need an explanation. Ask that this be rectified.

Make this request in writing and keep a copy for your records.

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    "You don't need an explanation" for what? "Ask that this be rectified" how? Are you suggesting that OP simply insist on having their salary adjusted? OP's recent comment suggests that they already tried asking for a raise earlier this year. If they are going to try again they will need to do so with a reasonable degree of tact. – Max Jun 27 at 1:50
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    Yes, tact will be required, but first, she needs to disclose the breach. Doing that may start putting things in motion anyhow. They'll need to retrain the person who sent it out. IT will need to create alerts for that kind of document appearing in its email system. And they'll need to talk to OP to make sure she doesn't blab to her co-workers (they may even need to check the print logs to see if she printed it, or check her phone to see if she took any pictures of the document). Right now, she has leverage. She's their top salesperson and if they fire her, they risk the info leaking everywhere – Stephan Branczyk Jun 27 at 2:01
  • At least they have given her the concrete evidence that she is being underpaid, useful for a tribunal... – Solar Mike Jun 27 at 5:17
  • @SolarMike But she's not. In one of the earlier edits, OP stated that her total pay is more than coworkers', with the difference made up in commission to recognize her superior performance. – shoover Jun 28 at 15:22
  • @shoover the OP seems to concentrate the question on the base salary, not bonus / benefits / commission... – Solar Mike Jun 28 at 15:24
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Whether you call attention to the sender's error is your decision. I personally wouldn't, since it could only cause them to feel embarrassment about what was probably a one-off mistake.

If you feel your skills are going undercompensated, you can and should ask for a raise. The worst they can say is no, at which point you start looking for a better job (heck, you might as well start looking now).

But when you request a raise, avoid referencing your knowledge of your coworkers' pay. Instead, focus on the contributions you've made to the company. If you search this site for general questions about asking for a raise, you may find some helpful suggestions.

  • It could be a copy and paste error, or someone who doesn't understand spreadsheets. Either way, it's unlikely to be a one-off mistake if no one is told about it. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 27 at 1:43
  • In any case, OP's question doesn't seem to be about whether to report the error. They want to know about negotiating for a raise. – Max Jun 27 at 1:47
  • "one-off mistake" I honestly disagree critical screw-ups like this should come with anything less than alert. What if everyone else in the company is receiving stuff like this and acting like nothing is wrong until it eventually blows up somewhere? What will happen when they see this got sent to OP and notice he has not said anything about it? – lucasgcb Jun 27 at 7:46
  • If OP's plan is to ask for a raise, how is calling out one of their supervisors on a clerical error (a significant one, but an accident nonetheless) going to help their case? Bear in mind that this may be a small company where the boss is also the HR and even the IT. In a perfect world nobody would take such correction personally, but junior employees must have tact. – Max Jun 27 at 7:54
  • @Max the situation is "what do I do if I witness clearly leaked data on the way to getting a raise", not "how do i get a raise". It's a serious situation with big implications if left alone, that'd be classified as neglect. – lucasgcb Jun 27 at 17:29

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