Employers discourage their employees from discussing their salary and wages with each other for a number of reasons. Co-workers who openly talk about their pay may uncover discriminatory practices, or find that some employees are being paid minimum wage, while others are getting paid far more. In any case, discussing salary with other employees may cause discord, and make things uncomfortable for the employer. Employers may warn workers about discussing their salaries with each other, and may even tell them it is illegal. It is not. Any worker can discuss their salary with others, and they are not breaking the law by doing so.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), all employees in Ohio, and throughout the rest of the country, are protected when engaging in certain activities. This law calls these “concerted activities” and they include talking about wages, benefits, and other terms of employment with other employees. Workers can engage in these concerted activities regardless of whether they are in a union or not.
Any time an employer prevents employees from talking about their wages, fires them, or otherwise punishes them, they will face consequences under the NLRA. It is important to note that through a severance agreement, employers can prohibit employees from talking about their wages or the amount of severance they received.
Discussing your salary with co-workers has many benefits. For starters, it gives you a better idea of how to value your own work, so you know what wage to ask for when speaking with your current or future employers. When co-workers discuss their salary, it can also uncover discrimination and other unfair wage practices.
For example, talking about salary can shed light on the fact that an employer is paying employees in a protected class, such as those of a certain gender, less than they are paying other employees. Talking about wages and salary can also allow employees to better organize when pushing for fairer pay or better work conditions.
Everything in life has its own pros and cons, and this remains true when discussing salary with your co-workers. One of the biggest disadvantages of discussing wages with co-workers is that it can cause certain employees to become disgruntled, and when that happens, their productivity may drop. While employers cannot fire or take other negative action against an employee simply for discussing their wage, they can take that action if a worker is no longer satisfactorily performing their work duties.
If your employer has threatened to fire or demote you after discussing your wages with your co-workers, our Columbus employment lawyers at Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC, can help you make things right. We are dedicated to upholding the rights of workers, and we will ensure that your employer upholds yours, too. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys and to learn more about your legal options.
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