When you get hired on a new job, your boss tells you that the company has a policy where you don’t discuss wages. He or she asks you not to talk about how much you’re being paid with the other employees. They say it nicely and smile, but you can tell that they’re very serious.
However, you find yourself feeling a bit concerned. Why don’t they want you to discuss wages? Does your boss actually have the authority to make this type of policy? Do you have to follow it just because it’s in the employee handbook?
You have a federal right to talk about wages
The truth is that for most employees, your right to talk about wages is federally protected. Your boss can’t tell you not to do so. They can’t make a policy prohibiting discussing wages with your fellow employees. Even if there is such a policy in the company handbook, employees do not have to follow it because it is illegal.
The only reason for companies to stop employees from talking about wages is to try to suppress those wages. If people who already work at the company find out that new hires are getting more money to do the same job, then they’re going to want to raise. It is in the best interests of the business to keep employees from talking about it, but it’s in the best interests of those employees to have full transparency. Since this right is federally protected, your boss cannot force you to stay silent when it comes to your wage.
Unfortunately, many employers do not understand how this law works or decide that they are going to prohibit wage discussions anyway. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important for you to know about all the legal options at your disposal.