back to article Who had Intel in the 'discrimination lawsuit' pool? Congratulations

Intel has been accused of discrimination after a former employee says she was severely underpaid based on her race and gender. Late last month, Cristina Wong filed suit against the chip giant in the Northern California US District Court alleging violations of the Federal Equal Pay Act, California Fair Employment and Housing …

  1. FozzyBear

    Well if the facts in the article are correct and there are no other circumstances that would legitimately warrant a reduced salary. I would say Ms Wong

    Take them for everything you can

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Something tells me the facts in the article might be slightly biased, or perhaps not tell the whole story, because Intel can't possibly be that stupid, (or evil) can they?

      1. Mark 85

        "...because Intel can't possibly be that stupid, (or evil) can they?"

        Sure they can. Greed and ego of the manglement prove that everyday in every industry.

      2. Nick Kew

        or perhaps not tell the whole story

        That they should underpay someone for either good or bad reasons - entirely plausible. As in, for example, a "nudge" to seek employment elsewhere.

        Happened to her, it seems. I expect it could very well happen to a white male, too.

        I expect Intel have some of those seemingly-mandatory forms on which employees declare their race and sex. That could help produce some statistics as to whether there really is pay gap based on race or sex amongst colleagues in the same job and level.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, they can be. Ask anyone at Fab 11X. They sure do virtue signal an awful lot but they don't actually practice what they preach. At least not in manufacturing, no idea about marketing.

    2. eldakka

      > Well if the facts in the article are correct and there are no other circumstances that would legitimately warrant a reduced salary. I would say Ms Wong

      Nowhere in the article did it state that she ever asked (or demanded) a payrise, apart from the single one that she asked about and was let go over.

      If 10 people start at the same time on $30k, but 9 of those people ask for (or 'demand' - "i'll quit if you don't give me a payrise") payrises over the next 10 years, and new people being hired after that point ask for more than $30k as their starting salary, why would you expect, being the 10th person who has never asked for a payrise, to be on the same pay as those who have? You could have salaries for the same team, doing the same job, ranging from the "I've been here 10 years and never asked for a payrise" $30k person up to the "was hired yesterday and we really want them and they'd only take the job for $100k" person, and all values in between as per their individual pay negotiations.

      A business will pay the smallest salaries it can get away with, so if someone doesn't ask for a payrise, they likely won't get one even tho others have asked and have received them.

      They may not be discriminating for any of the following reason (although they might be as well, we don't have enough info and that's why their is a suit!):

      1) race;

      2) gender;

      3) religion;

      4) sex preferences/lifestyle;

      It could be down to being discriminated against being a non-assertive, non-self-confident person who is too timid to assert herself to get a wage increase. And that is not a protected class.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " I would say Ms Wong"

      I would say Miss. But maybe I'm wong?!

  2. Bush_rat

    Damn Intel

    They really didn't need more bad press, I hope this is settled soon. If the complaint filed is accurate I hope she gets a seat on the board as compensation.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somebody in her department will be forced to testify in court that she committed some professional misconduct, which will explain why she was fired. As a result this will be settled out of court with her accepting a pittance to prevent her professional reputation being tarnished ("Nice resume you have there. A pity if something would happen to it...").

    That's how those things are usually handled. The rule is to never give in, because there are hundreds of disgruntled employees just waiting to see if they should do the same.

    1. Chairman of the Bored

      Damn, you're more cynical than I am!

      @AC, Part of me wants to disagree with your analysis about how the complaint will be dismissed, and the complainant neutralized. You paint a bad picture, but I've actually seen this one colored in a few times. So what the hell, have an upvote for honesty!

    2. lifetime security

      Yup. They will get together and formulate a plan with lawyers. Pull all the emails together and any responses including any emails she sent. Pick a few sentences from here and there. Management can say that they were blindside by her performance but she had sent some unprofessional email. Or she missed something.

      My ex-wife did that to an employee and was describing the process gleefully. Quite an ego trip for managers.

  4. tom dial Silver badge

    If the facts of this are as the article states, Intel should replace its HR director with one who will do a thorough reorganization of the department to ensure that in the future it enforces compliance with federal and state employment and civil rights laws. That one of its few legitimate purposes, most of the others having to do with accurate record maintenance and payroll management, which are largely clerical functions that do not justify the high salaries HR staff sometimes receive.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She did it to herself

    For years she was willing to work for less. She never told them that she would walk unless she got more money (or if she did, she never followed through). As such, based on her own claims it appears that she did it to herself.

    Take sex, race, etc. out of the picture. They really aren't relevant.

    People seem to forget that in a non-union shop it is up to you, and not management, to negotiate on your behalf. It seems like she did a very poor job of negotiation if she was paid $30K less than the next person -- or the other person did a very GOOD job.

    YOU decide on the minimum amount you will take, nobody else. The company decides on the maximum they are willing to pay and if your numbers are higher than theirs then you go elsewhere. No different than any other commodity, and as a marketing person she should understand that.

    If she was worth what she claims then Intel was stupid to let her get into that situation, as having a wide disparity between workers performing the same tasks is just asking for trouble. That would generally call under the category of "employee development". However, we only have have she claimed, not the facts, and chances are very good here that we will never hear any real facts because the case will either be settled out of court or dismissed.

    1. Chairman of the Bored

      Re: She did it to herself

      Ok, I see your point but you are assuming that she knew during her tenure how badly she was compensated. From the article it appears she only had the information after querying her manager.

      This is why management loves secrecy! In most organizations employees are prohibited or at least discouraged from discussing compensation, supposedly because of privacy concerns. But in my experience it's mainly to cover some line manager's ass.

      I will never forget my first year in a professional job, working for the US Govt - supposedly an enlightened employer. My program manager (white) was able to burn six weeks of leave on maternity leave. When put black lead computer scientist asked for the same - and bear in mind that she'd already earned it - the full request was denied, supposedly because of some upcoming field tests. Fair enough. But we accidentally stumbled on another black professional who had problems getting full sick leave. Interesting.... Time for more research.

      Long story short, after one year of stonewalling the FOIA requests and demoting agitators to crap jobs, we got summary data that confirmed we we're working for racist dickheads. Many of them. One was removed, several promoted to sinecures. From that time forward everyone kept a weather eye on metrics.

      Without data you have nothing. Collect data!

      1. Uffish

        Re: Collect data!

        Where I worked, before retirement, the max, min and median salaries were periodically published by the unions (France, they even have a union for management).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: She did it to herself

      so right out of college she was employed as a lowly customer service analyst, she accepted a job and a salary, then years later and a few promotions under her belt, she decided she was discriminated against because other people in the company got more than her?

      What's the bet those people with the higher salaries had been there a lot longer, more experienced, different skill set, and most likely were not doing exactly the same job, even down to competence and dedication and amount of sick leave etc taken, etc, etc, etc.

      Seems these people think everyone should be paid the same as the CEO, because he gets more than them.

      1. lifetime security

        Re: She did it to herself

        I'd say that there are a lot of variables here but salary compression can also be a factor. If she joined at a low salary then she would see only small annual increases. Hiring managers have to pay above the regular salary to get new talent in. And then they go through an adjustment phase.

        It is the manager's job to level the salary. I think they just took her for a ride. Happens to most minorities. The worst are stock options. I remember in a group I worked in, only white guys got stock options. Not even white women. The director was a good old boy from Georgia.

        1. Donn Bly

          Re: It is the manager's job to level the salary

          Why is it the manager's job to "level" the salary?

          The job of the manager is to get the maximum amount of work out of those who report to them. Part of that involves direct compensation, raises, bonuses, etc. - but it also includes managing the work environment, encouraging employee development with things such as paid training, etc. "Maximum" can be either short-term or long-term, depending on the needs of the company. Obviously paying more leads to better retention and generally a better long-term relationship, but there are other strategies too.

          However, how does paying someone more than the amount that they are willing to take come into it? It will NOT improve that employees production. You will not get more work out of that person than they are already producing. If I have two developers, and one of them is willing to work for $40K and the other demands $60K, why should I automatically pay them both $60K? I'm not going to see ANY additional benefit from it.

          I really can't speak to your personal situation. Obviously discrimination happens. Hopefully when you recognized the discrimination you packed up and moved on to a different position where you could be better compensated. However, if you stayed in that group because you accepted the crumbs that they did give you, then what incentive did they have to offer you or anyone else more?

    3. sisk

      Re: She did it to herself

      I will point out that a lot of companies have wage secrecy in their contracts. Illegally, of course, but even the HR people don't seem to realize that till you pull out the relevant law - the name of which escapes me at the moment - and show it to them. That being the case, it's entirely possible she didn't know and found out by accident. My ex-wife ran into a similar situation. She was the only woman on her team and after being there for a year found out that not only was everyone else making minimum 75 cents an hour more than her but that there were guys hired after her at a higher wage. When she brought it up to the HR person there she was first told that discussing salaries was a breach of policy. But to their credit they also gave her a retroactive pay raise back to the day she was hired. Her paycheck that week was impressive.

    4. Instinct46

      Re: She did it to herself

      I agree to a point.

      I had a friend who recently left the company I work at to find new employ. He started on just under £20k and had to fight to be paid just under £24. He left because he started looking around and found that for his amount of experience companies were willing to pay £35+, so he left and good on him. Just to note he was a white male... so it doesn't just happen to minorities, but unlike minorities he didn't have one of those cards he could flash to make people think he was hard done by.

      Like in this story it stated that she was either underpaid because she was a woman and/or an ethnic minority. Then it goes on to that she's also a lesbian... Just because your underpaid doesn't always have anything to do with sex, ethnicity or sexual preference.

  6. sisk

    Odds that it comes out down the road that her performance was lacking and that she was fired for reasons having nothing to do with wanting a raise? I mean, seriously, how stupid do you think Intel is?

    I will absolutely grant the possibility that Intel IS this stupid, but I consider it to be a lesser possibility than the possibility that the one side of the story presented here is lacking in some key details. Let's hear the other side. I'd be willing to bet, in the information vacuum here, that it holds up better to scrutiny.

    1. Chairman of the Bored

      Other side of the story

      Well, that's why we are entitled to our day in court. Except for many employment contracts, we never get there.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sex and or race

    Sounds like she doesn't know why she did not get the same wages, which would suggest that she hasnt actually experienced discrimination whilst working at all.

    I too had the same situation and it wasn't because they didn't want to give me more money they did give me the maximum pay increase year on year. What was different was the starting wage I accepted.

    It would be nice if everyone doing the same job got the same money but there are always some people who come in when there is less competition/ more demand for a job and get paid higher because they were in a better bargaining position. It always seemed strange to me that a new employee who doesn't know the ropes should get more than an old hand but that is why a new employee gets a grilling from their peers so that everyone else can say they are leaving come the next pay review. I do not know about the US but that is how professional wages increase in the UK once I learned how to play the game.

    So as tiresome as it is, employees have to say they are leaving before pay may be renegotated, then the company can decide if keeping you is a better bet than getting in someone else with the same experience/abilites. It is strange that this employee decided to go for litigation instead, unless ofc she knew that there was someone else eyeing her money and benefits or that she knew they were already thinking of laying her off. Having seen women promoted just to get them out of the way then it is possible her employer ran out of places to put her.

    Now I am male and white and if it can happen to me for the reasons above then it should also be possible for it to happen to someone of a different sex/race/whatever. That being said if I had complained of discrimination then no one would have listened or cared enough for it to be news.

    So I call misuse of the discrimination card, repeat promotions and wage increases do not sit well with being a second class citizen

  8. I3N

    ElReg you did this to yourself

    What, nary a decent stock photo of an Asian woman working in all your bits!

    .... will type for down votes ...

  9. EveryTime

    That's a pretty big pay gap to be explained by discrimination. It would be a lot easier to believe if 10 people were getting $4K less each.

    There are good reasons to pay people different amounts for doing the exact same job. Someone with a broader skill set that can fill other positions if needed is worth more, even if they never actually need to do that other work. Sometimes having a degree in the field gives legal cover if anything goes wrong, even when a lower-paid person is doing the same work just as competently.

    Admittedly it's hard to see either of those applying to a marketing role.

    1. lifetime security

      I have seen this too often. I took over a security group and found out that my star performer was the lowest paid employee (< $70K) in our division North Carolina. He also had a masters in CS. When I explained to HR that a security expert could walk out and get a job for $150k, they checked and came back and said yes, but it is not appropriate ... His problem? He was a muslim from Bangladesh. It was a struggle to get him a 10K raise. He got his green card, got a better paying job (with my help), quit, did an MBA simultaneously, and is now a managing partner in a fund.

  10. ashton

    After all the sjw, feminism I tend to doubt those stories.. as much as i'm for equal treatment these days majority of "i'm discriminated" yells are pure bs spread by spoiled people who simply expect everyone to bow to them without putting any effort.

  11. lifetime security

    Any Stock discrepancies?

    I wonder if the discovery process will uncover stock grants/options discrepancies too.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone in Intel's Marketing function is lucky to have a job at all...

    ...regardless of pay.

  13. Jediben

    Sounds to me that she

    1) didn't have a clue what the going rate for her role should have been as she was being promoted / changing roles

    2) wasn't struggling to get by on the salary she was being given

    3) didn't look for monetary compensation for her work when it was being recognised by internal awards

    4) doesn't want to work anywhere else ever again

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not saying it's right, mind you

    "Chipzilla's marketing department hired her right out of college as a customer service analyst. From there, she worked her way through the marketing department to become a field sales engineer for the sales marketing group."

    This was the explanation. Anyone who has worked for large corporations knows that the salaries of people who work their way up from "lesser" areas are rarely brought up to the level of people who joined the group with an appropriate degree.

  15. Breen Whitman

    This is happening all over. Nursing, university tutors, IT.

    The biggie is university tutors. PhD students often have work to offset fees and living costs. The unis get funding per student based on these costs. The uni then underpays the student. This is really common with female Asian PhD students. The unis skim the top off and treat it as income.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Breen Whitman

      "The unis skim the top off and treat it as income.", yes for everyone they can get away with and not just unis but linked colleges and 6th form schools.

      Since Universities effectively have a right to print money then you would imagine they would be satistfied but they IMHO redirect funds where ever they can because when no one is looking then why not.

      I would be surprised if any course currently being offered at any uni has full tutor attendance, they get the money even when they can't be bothered to teach so if someone is "sick" no one covers it and they dont give you back the cash you spent to buy the tutor's time.

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