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Can employers stop workers from discussing their wages?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Employment

There are numerous federal and state laws protecting workers that employers may try to sidestep. A business might even include terms in an employment contract, worker handbook or employee training module to trick workers into misunderstanding their rights.

All too often, companies try to convince employees that business practices adopted by the company come before the rights of the worker. For example, companies may train workers that it is a rule violation to talk about their wages. Can a company punish a worker for discussing their compensation?

Wage discussions have federal protection

All too often, employers will try to pay workers the absolute least amount they can. Lying to, manipulating and tricking workers can help companies minimize what they pay for staffing. Workers may accept lower wages when they do not know what other employees earn for similar work.

A company might discriminate against workers from certain backgrounds or with certain characteristics by paying them far less than the average rate of compensation for a specific position at the company. Convincing workers not to talk with one another about their income is the only way to prevent workers from discovering unfair discrepancies in pay rates.

Federal rules actually protect the right of workers to discuss their wages as a way of organizing and holding employers accountable. If a business punishes or fires a worker for discussing their wages, that could be an example of unfair workplace retaliation. The employee might have grounds to take legal action against the business.