What does employment law say regarding your rights when it comes to talking about your pay with your coworkers? That's a common question we are asked about.
Consider this: you believe that your company's pay scale is unfair, but the only way to know for sure is to ask your coworkers. This is a major issue for your company’s management, who attempts to bar open discussion about compensation. In fact, the company goes to extreme lengths to prevent this, posting signs in the break rooms or issuing verbal mandates to employees, asking them to refrain from discussing pay with fellow employees. While this is more a tactic to avoid paying larger salaries than anything else, it also keeps employees in the dark about what their co-workers are earning. Some companies will terminate an employee who is found to have discussed their pay with another worker.
Still, the question remains: can you be fired for discussing wages with coworkers?
Your employer is not legally allowed to fire you for discussing your wages or salary with a co-worker. Employees who speak about their salaries with colleagues may believe that doing so may result in their firing, which may very well happen. However, if a company does dismiss you for discussing your salary with others at the company, it is completely illegal.
Termination For Discussing Pay Is Against Federal Law
If you are terminated for speaking with coworkers about pay, you can file a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
If it goes before an administrative law judge, an employer could be found in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which specifies that employers cannot legitimately mandate that workers not speak freely amongst each other about topics such as pay, salaries, promotions, or even perceived injustices. If a company does fire an employee for this reason, that employee could be entitled to back pay and benefits, as well as being offered their job back.
There are always exceptions, which is why you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney such as Brandon J. Broderick if you are unclear about the laws governing your employment with a company.
What Is Covered Under the NLRA
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects both union and non-union workers, despite the common misconception that only union workers are covered
Employees in the private sector may unionize, participate in collective bargaining, or conduct collective actions, such as striking, under the NLRA. It also preserves the rights of non-union workers to participate in "protected" actions, such as discussing the terms of their employment, including pay, salaries, etc. As a result, it is typically unlawful for employers to dismiss employees for discussing compensation, unless the employer can demonstrate a compelling business reason for doing so.
The NLRA, like any other federal rule, may be complex. In the event you believe your NLRA rights have been infringed, you should consult with an employment law attorney known for taking on similar matters in the past.
If You Were Fired For Discussing Your Pay, We Can Help
Our employment lawyers can assist you in ensuring that your rights as an employee are upheld and that any compensation you get is maximized, especially in the event of a wrongful termination.
For years, our outstanding employment law team at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law has assisted clients in defending their rights in New York, New Jersey and the surrounding Tri-State. So don't worry, take a deep breath and have faith in yourself. Schedule a free consultation with one of our employment attorneys. We take pleasure in giving our clients the greatest legal assistance and ensuring their case is handled with complete care.