Pay by the Act: Discounting Teenagers

Consider –

“When I hire local teenagers to do odd jobs, I pay about what they’d earn at a fast-food restaurant. I pay adults doing similar work at least twice as much and add a hefty tip, since they have families and basic living expenses. It’s not the money but the message: I do not want the teenagers to think this might provide a lucrative career. Is this pay inequality ethical?”

Statement by Joan Hess, Fayetteville, AR, reported in Cohen, Richard, “DISCOUNTING TEENS: THE ETHICIST,” NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2002.

What do you think? Consider formal workplace employment–Would your answer be different. Comment on modern human resources policies concerning differential compensation.

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