How much do you make for the work you perform? Are you confident you are being paid a fair amount for it? Such questions are common in the mind of employees in all fields and businesses, from the teenager working the register in a candy store to a high level executive in a multinational corporation. A simple way to find out if you are being paid correctly and fairly is talking about your salary or wages with coworkers. If you are making much less or much more than someone doing a similar job as you, then there might be reason for someone to be upset enough to cause a fuss and demand a raise.
However, if you have been near a watercooler or in a break room in recent years, you have probably heard people claim that discussing salary at work can get you fired, or even that it is illegal. Is there any truth to this notion? No, you cannot be fired for discussing wages at work.
Federal Protections Let You Talk Money in the Workplace
The majority of employed and working Americans are protected from discipline exercised simply due to protected classes, such as age, gender, race, and so forth. Most people know about such protections, likely due to employment posters that need to be hung up in most break rooms. There is another federal protection that many people do not know about, though: the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Established all the way back in 1935, the NLRA made it illegal for an employer to fire an employee just for talking about wages at work. In 2014, President Obama signed an executive order – Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information – that helped further cement the NLRA’s power and importance. Due to these federal employment laws, you can converse with coworkers about how much each of you make in a given pay period.
Why Did the Rumor of Termination Start?
If the NLRA has been around for decades, then why do so many people wrongfully believe they can be terminated or penalized for talking about their salary at work? It is possible that employers and companies started the rumor intentionally to try to keep workers quiet about compensation. In a situation where employee A makes more than employee B for the same work, they will never know about it if they never talk about it, saving the company money. You might have even worked for a company that told you directly to not talk about wages, but this does not mean they have the authority to discriminate against you for doing so.
Have you been terminated or disciplined for talking about wages with a coworker? John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law and our federal employment lawyers in Washington D.C. are here to stand up for your rights and protect you from unjust employment practices. With our assistance, you may be able to receive compensation for lost wages and hardship due to your firing, or regain your position. To learn more about our services, you can review our recent victories or contact us for a free phone consultation.