The DeWitt Difference:
Giving Your Case The Attention You Deserve

Can employers stop employees from discussing their wages?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Retaliation

Employers can’t prevent employees from discussing their wages due to legal protections that are in place to promote transparency and fairness in the workplace. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protects your rights as an employee to take steps to ensure fair working conditions, including preventing wage discrimination. Discussing your wages falls under that umbrella.

The NLRA specifically protects you as long as you’re a non-supervisory employee. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a union or not. You have a dedicated right to discuss wages and other terms and conditions of employment. This protection empowers you and other employees to negotiate better wages, benefits and working conditions by allowing everyone to share information freely without fear of retaliation from an employer.

The importance of wage transparency

As an employee, discussing wages can highlight disparities and injustices in pay, such as gender or racial wage gaps, prompting actions toward more equitable compensation practices. It also provides you and other employees with the information necessary to negotiate salaries more effectively to ensure fair compensation for comparable skills and contributions.

For employers, fostering an environment where wage discussions are allowed can lead to increased trust and openness, which improves employee satisfaction and retention. It can also improve employee productivity because they know everyone is being paid fairly.

Tips for discussing wages

While employees have the legal right to discuss wages, approaching these conversations with tact and respect for privacy is important. Start by sharing your own experiences and information rather than asking others to divulge their salaries directly.

Be mindful that some colleagues may feel uncomfortable discussing their wages. Respect their decision without pressuring them to share. Even though this is a protected activity, trying to force someone to talk about what they make can lead to issues at work.

If you encounter policies or practices that discourage or prohibit wage discussions, remember that such policies violate federal law. If you’re facing retaliation for discussing your wages, you should document the incidents and seek legal guidance to understand your options and protect your rights.