What the law says about salary discussions

Let’s face it, many employers would probably prefer that employees avoid discussions about compensation. After all, if staffers don’t know how much other people are making, the employer is less likely to have to worry about salary complaints.

But if you suspect that you aren’t being paid at the same level as others who are doing similar work, you may need to broach the sensitive topic of pay with some of your coworkers in order to find out if you have a valid complaint.

However, what can you do if your employer has a confidentiality rule when it comes to compensation? Can employers legally bar employees from talking about compensation, benefits, and salary issues?

Legal Protection

One recent case sheds some light on this issue. A company attempted to force an employee to sign a confidentiality agreement pertaining to salary.

The man refused and was fired. He sued for wrongful termination, claiming that the company was violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by ordering him to sign an unlawful document and then firing him for refusing to do so.

The company lost. The court ruled that the company had indeed violated the law.

Reason: The NLRA prohibits employers from imposing gag orders on employees in matters relating to pay. That meant that the confidentiality document the man was asked to sign was unlawful.

What the NLRA Says About Salary Discussions

The NLRA offers protection to most employees who would like to form or join unions.

Since salary discussions are often part of this process, the NLRA also protects both union and non-union employees who engage in certain protected activity, such as discussing the terms and conditions of employment.

The NLRA further prohibits an employer from restricting workers’ ability to discuss compensation and fringe benefits in the workplace.

That means employer generally cannot prohibit employees from discussing their wages, bonuses, or benefits with each other.

Contact the Murphy Law Group Now for a Free Consultation

As with most federal regulations, the NLRA can be complicated. If you feel that your rights may have been violated under the NLRA, it’s best to speak to a lawyer who has experience fighting for workers’ rights.

Email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.