A woman who took to social media app TikTok to share the good news of her new high-paying tech job says she was fired for her pay transparency, raising important questions for Australian workplaces mulling over the same.
Lexi Larson posted the video last month where she explained she’d received a US$20,000 ($28,700) raise, attracting a US$449 ($645) boost in taxes paid.
“How much my paychecks increased when I went from [US] $70k to $90k per year,” Larson captioned the video, with hashtags #paycheckbreakdown #salarytransparency and #pay transparency.
Her video received relatively modest views and engagement on the app by TikTok standards, with 3302 likes and 148 comments left.
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Larson, who is from Denver, Colorado, posted another TikTok video shortly afterwards where she said “So, TikTok got me fired”.
“A couple weeks ago I started sharing about how I got a job in the tech industry … Um, well, I don’t work at that job anymore because they fired me,” Larson said.
She continues that she was reluctant to reveal too much more about the dismissal as she had to sign a “bunch” of documents, but she explained her workplace “really, really did not like” that she was sharing her salary.
“They said me having this account was a security concern because I could post something private about the company,” she explained.
“I asked, ‘Have I broken any policies? Have I posted anything on TikTok that is a security concern?’ And they said not at this time I have not but it could happen at any time in the future, so they’re just not going to take that risk.”
Interestingly, Colorado is one of just a handful of states in the US that require employers to publish compensation and benefits information about positions at the time of the job posting.
The employer does not need to post a specific salary, however, as a range is sufficient to comply with the statute, JDSUPRA explains.
Larson, who was moved to tears, said she was able to restore her previous role after explaining to her former workplace what had happened.
“They’re really amazing. They know about my TikTok and they have no issues with it,” she said.
“Not gonna lie. I was super anxious going into today. It’s just a super weird situation and I wasn’t sure how all my co-workers would react,” she said.
“Plus, everyone at the company knows about my TikTok now, so that’s a little awkward, too. Shout out, co-workers! Hey guys!”
The pay transparency movement has been gaining traction in recent years
For the first time ever, PwC Australia disclosed the advisory firm’s projected pay ranges for staff for the 2023 financial year in April, in an effort to retain and hire staff in a squeezed labour shortage.
Meanwhile, big banks Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have both removed pay secrecy clauses in their contracts after the union flagged that managers were coming down on staff for talking about salaries.
Westpac says pay transparency is an important step to help equalise the gender pay gap, following a 2018 Icelandic policy that requires companies to prove they pay men and women the same for a job of equal value.
Westpac group executive of human resources Christine Parker says scrapping pay secrecy clauses was “the right thing to do” while also being attuned to “contemporary employee relations”, like staff talking among themselves about a traditionally taboo topic.
“We did not make the change as a way of achieving gender pay equity, but it’s part of the totality in terms of people understanding how they are being paid, and being able to have open conversations about it,” she said.
“As an example, if someone were to find out that their equivalent male marketing manager was being paid more, they could go and discuss it with their leader. Maybe the person came in with more experience.”
That person’s leader can explain what they need to do to get the same pay, “or it could identify a gap that we didn’t realize existed”, Parker continued.
“In reality, the people who discuss their pay will continue to do so, and 99% of the people who didn’t discuss it, still won’t want to discuss it.
“It’s more about changing the perception … I think that it’s really important as an organisation not to be seen as gagging discussions about pay.”
Australia’s gender pay gap is 13.8%. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, this means women in full-time work earn $255.30 less per week on average than their male counterparts.