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Ever feel like discussing your salary with coworkers is as taboo as talking about politics at the dinner table? You’re not alone! Many people grow up hearing that talking about finances is impolite, but guess what? Discussing your pay isn’t just a juicy topic—it’s a legally protected right!

Prohibiting wage discussions can lead to significant pay gaps and prevent employees from organizing to address compensation concerns. These pay gaps may be an equal pay violation based on race/color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and age. Thus, by preventing discussion regarding wages, employers may be seeking to hide employment discrimination violations of Equal Pay Act (EPA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

Let’s take a look to see how the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) empowers you to chat freely about your wages and what you can do if your employer tries to keep you quiet.

Is it illegal to discuss my salary with my coworkers?

Absolutely not! While it may be considered rude by some, discussing your salary with coworkers is protected by federal law. The NLRA ensures you can discuss your pay and benefits without fear of retaliation from your employer.

What exactly is the NLRA?

The NLRA is a foundational statute in United States labor law. Enacted in 1935, it protects employees’ rights to organize, form, join, or assist labor organizations, and to engage in collective bargaining and other concerted activities for mutual aid or protection. This means you have the right to talk about your wages with your coworkers, among other rights.

Who enforces the NLRA?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent federal agency that enforces the NLRA. The NLRB investigates and remedies unfair labor practices and conducts elections for labor union representation.

Why don’t more people discuss their wages if it’s legal?

There are several reasons. Many employers don’t encourage this practice, and some employees might not be aware of their rights. Additionally, societal norms often discourage open discussions about money, contributing to pay gaps and inequities.

Can my employer fire me for talking about my salary?

No, your employer cannot legally fire you for discussing your salary. If they attempt to do so, they could face a lawsuit and be liable for damages. Firing you for discussing your wages would be a wrongful termination.

What actions can’t my employer take if they find out I’m discussing wages?

Your employer cannot:

  • Force you to reveal what was discussed. 
  • Prohibit further conversations about wages. 
  • Install surveillance devices to monitor your conversations. 
  • Make you sign an agreement not to discuss wages. 

Can employers prevent discussions about wages in advance?

No, employers cannot create policies that prohibit you from discussing wages, whether at work, during breaks, or even outside of work. Any such policy would be illegal and unenforceable. Additionally, confidentiality agreements cannot legally prevent you from discussing your wages. Any such provision is unenforceable.

What if my employer tells me discussing wages is disrespectful?

While an employer may express a preference for private discussions about wages, they cannot legally enforce this preference by taking disciplinary action against you for discussing your pay.

What should I do if my employer prohibits wage discussions?

First, try to resolve the issue through a discussion involving you, your employer, and potentially your attorney. If this doesn’t work, you might need to file a claim with the NLRB.

How do I document retaliation for discussing wages?

Keep detailed records, including:

  • Dates, times, and participants in wage discussions. 
  • Any conversations or disciplinary actions from your employer. 
  • Witnesses who can support your claims. 
  • Any communications (emails, texts, call logs) related to the incident. 

What forms of retaliation might I face for discussing wages?

Unlawful retaliation can include:

  • Demotion or reduction in pay. 
  • Suspension without pay. 
  • Loss of benefits. 
  • Unfavorable shift assignments. 

If you face retaliation, consider hiring an attorney to file a claim with the NLRB.

How can an attorney help?

An employment law attorney can help you understand your rights, mediate discussions with your employer, and assist in filing claims with the NLRB if necessary. Understanding and exercising your right to discuss wages is crucial for ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. By being informed and proactive, you can help create a more transparent and equitable work environment for yourself and your coworkers. Wage transparency ensures everyone is treated fairly and gives employees a sense of power and control over their futures.

Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, is the premier choice for handling NLRB violations due to its exclusive focus on employment and labor law, ensuring in-depth expertise and a deep understanding of these complex issues. With a proven track record, including over 40 trials brought to verdict by founding partner Brian Spitz, many resulting in million-dollar awards, our firm has demonstrated its commitment and capability in defending employee rights. Additionally, our comprehensive approach to legal representation equips employees with the knowledge and confidence to assert their rights, making us the trusted advocate for those facing NLRB violations.

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