Can Your Employer Stop You From Discussing Your Salary With Co-Workers?
Talking About Your Salary Is a Federally Protected Right
Many employers would rather their employees not discuss their salaries with each other, and employees are often under the impression that they’re not allowed to discuss salary. But under the law, discussing your salary with your co-workers is a protected right.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the right to disclose their salaries and discuss them with co-workers. Here are a few common questions about that right.
Who Does the NLRA Apply To?
Under the NLRA, most private-sector employees are protected in both union and non-union workplaces. In 2014, President Obama signed an executive order expanding those rights to federal contractors.
It doesn’t apply to government employees, independent contractors, agricultural workers, and some supervisors, with a limited number of exceptions.
When, Where and How Can You Discuss Salary With Co-Workers?
The NLRA gives you the right to discuss your paycheck in both face-to-face and written communication—including text and social media. Sometimes, employers will have policies that forbid using their equipment for having conversations not related to work, but they can’t specifically disallow you from discussing your pay on company-owned devices.
Under NLRA law, you can talk about your wages while not at work, as well as during breaks at the workplace. Your employer is allowed to prohibit you from discussing salary at work or in front of customers, but if non-work-related conversations are generally allowed during work time, they can’t specifically forbid you from discussing salary during work hours.
What Kinds of Conversations Are Protected Under the Law?
Both conversations and activities around workplace pay are protected under the NLRA. This includes:
- Discussing your pay, your co-workers’ pay, and your managers’ pay.
- Working together to present a joint pay-related request to your employer.
- Union organizing to raise employee pay.
- Enlisting a third-party union to help you negotiate pay with your employer.
- Asking the National Labor Relations Board about your rights.
- Discussing and participating in outside activity regarding industry and legal issues that affect your pay.
- Discussing and publicly supporting employees at other companies.
You are also allowed to opt not to discuss pay if you wish; you don’t have to disclose your salary against your will.
What Is Your Employer Forbidden From Doing Under the Law?
Under the NLRA, it is unlawful for your employer to:
- Retaliate against you in any way for discussing pay with co-workers, including firing or demoting you.
- Question or interrogate you about pay-related conversations you’ve had.
- Spy on you with regard to pay-related conversations.
- Threaten you in order to dissuade you from discussing your pay.
It is also unlawful for employers to have policies or rules that discourage or disallow you from discussing your wages, including requiring you to ask permission.
It is also important to note that while you have the right to discuss your pay with co-workers, you don’t have the right to reveal other people’s pay. So if you have access to your company’s payroll information, for example, you are generally not allowed to share that information unless you’ve been directed to by your employer or as part of an investigation.
Are You Being Prohibited From Discussing Your Salary?
If your employer is trying to discourage you from discussing your salary with co-workers, it may be in violation of the law.
If this is happening to you, you should contact a knowledgeable employment attorney who can hold your employer accountable. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.