The Unfortunate Tale of a Denied Pay Increase: When Performance Reviews Fall on Deaf Ears

Skylar Hawthorne

Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 12:00 AM CDT

In the world of work, we often hope that our hard work and dedication will be recognized and rewarded. But what happens when that recognition is met with a disappointing denial? A recent meme featuring the infamous "Socially Awkward Penguin" perfectly captures the frustration and disappointment of being denied a well-deserved pay increase after a positive performance review.

The image, which has been circulating on social media platforms, showcases a penguin caught in an awkward pose. With its flippers outstretched and a clumsy expression on its face, the penguin embodies the feeling of being caught off guard by an unfortunate turn of events.

Above the penguin in bold white text against a red backdrop, the caption reads: "APPLIED FOR PAY INCREASE AFTER 18 MONTHS IN MY POSITION WITH A 3.0 REVIEW." It's clear that the individual in question had taken the necessary steps to advocate for themselves, armed with evidence of their hard work and a positive review. However, what follows is disheartening.

Below the penguin, against a blue background, the text reads: "DISTRICT MANAGER DENIES IT." The denial of a pay increase despite a favorable performance review can leave one feeling betrayed and undervalued. It raises questions about company policies, fairness, and the value placed on employee contributions.

Unsurprisingly, the meme has sparked a lively discussion among social media users. Many express their support for the individual facing this setback, encouraging them to take legal action and seek justice for what they believe to be a clear case of retaliation. The comments section is filled with messages of solidarity, with individuals sharing their own experiences of being denied fair compensation or witnessing workplace injustices.

One comment highlights the importance of documenting evidence and preparing for a potential lawsuit: "Fired for following their own written policies? Document any evidence of retaliation for that future lawsuit." Another user emphasizes the need to fight for what one deserves: "Good. Fight for that and document everything in case of retaliation. I hear about so many people complaining about some process or system in their company and just doing nothing at all about it."

While this meme captures the frustration of one individual's experience, it also serves as a reminder of the broader issues that persist within the workplace. Unequal pay, lack of transparency, and management decisions that appear arbitrary can create a hostile environment for employees striving to succeed.

It's essential for employees to know their rights and seek support when facing such challenges. Whether it's through legal action, unionization, or community advocacy, individuals are encouraged to stand up against workplace injustices and fight for fair treatment.

As this meme continues to circulate, it serves as a rallying cry for those who have experienced similar situations, reminding them that they are not alone in their struggles. It is a call to action for employers to review their policies and ensure that employees are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve.

In a world where hard work is meant to be rewarded, let us strive for a future where everyone is paid what they deserve, and no one is left feeling socially awkward or undervalued.

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View source: Imgur

Top Comments from Imgur


That's a huge red flag from your employer. No way I'd stay with a place that gave me that kind of b******* runaround.


Fired for following their own written policies? Document any evidence of retaliation for that future lawsuit


Can’t be fired for distributing documented company policy. If they do fire you, sue them, take the settlement, find another job and quit.


Well done. Get what you deserve, not what they think you deserve.


Good. Fight for that s*** and document everything in case of retaliation(which is illegal). I hear about so many people complaining about some process or system in their company and just doing ... nothing at all about it.


I just found out that a new hire that I'm in the process of training is making $18k more than me. My next conversation with my boss may very well be my last because I am fortunate enough to be in a financial position where I do not need this job.


How did she know? Simple, she lied to your face and assumed you wouldn’t follow up. Brush up your resume, it’s time to go work somewhere else.


#2 red is rad, blue is bad


It was my job on a secondment to manage junior doctors, which meant I had to know their version of contract/agreement (rights and duties etc not 'jane works for company from date to date) inside out and backwards. Very easy therefore to navigate similar/other agreements like my own admin one, like nurses etc. it's amazing how many cultural behaviours get believed as rules when actually it's just misinformation.


And just like that, you’re a labor organizer. For what it’s worth, I’m very proud of you for the risk you took to look out for your fellow laborers. Keep fighting the good fight brother

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