In the context of Latina Equal Pay Day, we interviewed Latina attorney, Taylor M. Tieman, founder of The Legalmiga Library™. This platform is a comprehensive legal resource hub that equips entrepreneurs with the tools they need to mitigate legal risks and foster successful businesses. As a multifaceted Latina who has transitioned from employee to employer, and having experienced both perspectives from the Equal Pay viewpoint, she offers us insights and tips that will empower you to negotiate a better salary and confidently ask for what you’re worth! You’ve got this, chica!
Taylor runs a virtual law firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Her expertise spans trademarks, contracts, copyrights, podcasts, and business formation.
In addition to her dynamic professional achievements, Taylor boasts an impressive academic background. Before practicing law, she earned her degree in communications from the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Following this, she achieved her Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. Since then, she’s been unstoppable!
Yet, what makes her success even more inspiring is her dedication to advising minority communities and helping them build and safeguard their business legacies. Given her expertise and commitment, who better to guide us on the legal resources available to ensure fair wages? Don’t miss this insightful interview!
LATINA COOL: As we recognize October 5th as Latina Equal Pay Day, the Latina Equal Pay Organization states that “Latinas are paid 52 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid”, meaning Latinas work longer for less. From a legal standpoint, how does the law protect us in ensuring a fair wage?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: There are several state and federal Labor Acts that exist to help ensure that pay is equal, but the problem is that most people don’t know that these Acts are here to help, plus they don’t know their rights – and also don’t have access to the information (salaries of coworkers, etc.) to be able to enforce their rights.
LATINA COOL: Is there any reference material that we can use to learn more about our legal rights in this arena?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: Yes, you can go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website and visit their Equal Pay for Equal Work page, that’s a helpful source.
LATINA COOL: As an attorney, what are the most common situations your Latina clients face concerning equal pay?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: The biggest issue I see is education + experience in negotiating. My clients (and even myself, sometimes!) struggle with negotiating because of cultural or societal factors that discourage assertiveness in negotiations.
I am also happy to share that I didn’t negotiate my first salary until I was OUT of law school and had already been a lawyer for 1 year. I should have (and could have!) been doing it much, much earlier. I just never knew I could ask and was taught to be grateful for what I was given. As a brand-new attorney, I was able to negotiate my way from a $57K/year salary to a $75k/year salary, and ultimately up to an $80k/year salary before leaving that law firm. My next law firm offered $85k when I was a 3rd-year attorney. I asked for more, but they declined until my 1st-year review. I asked and they said no, but it wasn’t the end of the world. And now, as someone who hires people, I almost expect them to come in and negotiate their salary/pay. So, don’t be afraid to do it!
LATINA COOL: What resources are available to help negotiate a fair salary? For instance, how can we compare the wage we’re receiving for a particular role to what men in the same position within the same company are earning?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: Sites we have used include Glassdoor, Reddit, LinkedIn or just asking around. Employers try to discourage people from sharing what they make for this very reason – but it is illegal in many states for an employer to try to prevent their employees from discussing their pay.
LATINA COOL: As a trusted advisor, what are the key dos and don’ts during salary negotiations?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: Actually, I have a Contracts Negotiation Guide/Script available in The Legalmiga Library, which is accessible here. Here are five key tips that I lay out:
1) Everything is Negotiable! Yes, I’m serious about this one. Legally, you cannot be forced to sign a contract – this would be a contract signed under “duress.” If you don’t agree with something in a contract, you don’t have to sign it. On the other hand, if you don’t agree with something in the contract and the other party doesn’t want to remove it before you both sign, they also have the right to not move forward with the contract either. Evaluate the leverage that either side may have while also understanding that you don’t have to agree to something that you don’t want to sign, and vice versa – you cannot legally force someone to do so.
2) Know What You Want/Don’t Want. Know what you want in an ideal world (More $? Less restrictions? Full IP ownership), but also know what kind of deal you’ll walk away from. For example, I will negotiate the license to any content that I provide to a business/individual who wants to use my name/likeness/material within recorded video for a minimum upfront fee. Alternatively, I will evaluate the potential exposure/PR I may receive in return, limit their use, and offer them an option to license later on.
3) The Goal: Everyone (Should) Win. Don’t be a bully. The best contractual relationships leave both parties relatively happy and eager to continue working together, even beyond the current project or partnership. Entering into contractual agreements is a time to work together but also stand firm in what you want, making sure not to sign anything you don’t want to.
4) Don’t Be a Doormat. This will most likely not be your first, or last, negotiation opportunity. Practice makes perfect, and even if you think you’re going to upset the other party, you need to keep your interests at the forefront. Why? Because the other party sure isn’t. Even if the other party is a family member, friend, or long-time business partner – at the end of the day, everyone is looking out for themselves.
5) Be Aware of Red Flags. Most business owners should expect that a new venture/project/etc. will be in writing, so if you ask someone to sign a contract and they immediately get defensive or become upset, take a step back and ask yourself why. Contracts ensure everyone is on the same page, and everyone gets an opportunity to review and negotiate the agreement before signing. So, if someone hesitates to enter a written agreement, consider it a significant red flag. On the flip side, if you inquire about negotiating a proposed contract and the other party becomes defensive or upset, scrutinize its contents closely. Consider having a lawyer review it to safeguard your rights.
LATINA COOL: Given the challenges that Latina women face in the workforce, what legal advancements or policies would you like to see implemented to further address the wage gap?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: I think we have to enact more equal pay legislation regarding transparency. No question about it. Employers won’t make significant moves until the law tells them they have to, and if there is some sort of consequence in play. Salaries now must be disclosed on certain job applications, but companies are allowed to show a range – and sometimes they are so broad is laughable.
LATINA COOL: How can Latina women empower themselves and be better equipped to tackle pay disparities, both individually and as a community?
TAYLOR M. TIEMAN: Talking about it. Practicing negotiating. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are. The more you talk about it with your friends and community, the more they know about it, too.
Now you know, chicas! To master your negotiation skills, gather a few trusted friends and practice relentlessly. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Sandra Ortiz Juárez estudió Ciencias de la Comunicación en su natal México y obtuvo una maestría en Periodismo Audiovisual en España. Ha trabajado en radio, televisión y en medios digitales como AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas y en las revistas Siempre Mujer y Ser Padres, donde se desempeñó como directora digital. Ha entrevistado a famosos como Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, entre muchas otras personalidades. En sus ratos libres le gusta bailar y experimentar en la cocina. Se confiesa adicta al internet y al sushi.