Washington: I started as a temp and was hired on full time at the same time as another person in my position. During my salary negotiations, the human resources person let it slip that the other person was being paid at a certain level, and in order to bring me on, they bumped up my job to the title level of the other person and are paying me at the bottom end of that scale (about a 17 percent pay differential).

Since that time, it has become clear that the other person is ill-suited to the job, and that employee's higher-level functions are being routed to me. To top it off, when someone in another state gave notice in March, their job was transferred to me as well ("because you are so talented").

Now we are about to bring on another person to the team, and I am going to end up the lowest-paid person in the group, by a pretty big margin. I've only been here six months, but I am afraid if I say nothing now, I am going to be told in December that our budget is maxed out. Help, please.

As if you need help! It sounds like you are doing great, and you clearly deserve a raise. You've got a strong case for a substantial bump in pay -- and nothing to lose by asking for it.

Do not use the number the human resources person gave you as your reference point; disclosing that could get that person in trouble. Before you meet with your supervisor, research comparable salaries for your position within your industry as a whole. If the pay gap is big, point that out. However, your primary argument should be based on the value you give the company and your increasing level of responsibility.