From doctors to plumbers to teachers to coffee baristas, walk into just about any place of business, ask an employee what they make, and they will probably tell you to leave. A big part of employment culture in the United States is that employees don’t talk about what they make, hourly or salary, from the person who was just hired to the CEO. While most people don’t talk about paychecks because it makes them uncomfortable, jealous, embarrassed, or a mix of all three, some are actually told by their employers that discussing their income can be met with retaliation. But is there any merit behind these claims of potential retaliation?
Freedom of Watercooler Talk
As it turns out, if you are covered by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protections, you are free to talk about your salary around the watercooler as much as you want. Time and time again, the NLRB has shut down employers who have tried to retaliate against employees for mentioning their wages to other workers, friends, and the media. After all, you have freedom of speech, so why would that suddenly be limited when talking about your monthly income? If your boss has punished you, or even fired you, for talking about your earnings, they most likely violated employment law.
Why is Comparing Salaries So Important?
Undoubtedly, many people who are reading this blog entry right now aren’t comfortable with the idea of talking about salaries, and that’s fine. But it is important to allow that discussion to take place when people want it to, and especially when they need it to.
Despite our societal and cultural advances in America, there are still major employment disparities and discriminations around every corner. If talking about our salaries were actually flat-out banned, dishonest employers could hide countless wage violations behind that impenetrable curtain. By protecting an employee’s right to talk about how much they make, it makes it much easier to sniff out discriminatory policies and shut them down.
If you have been fired or otherwise penalized at work after mentioning your salary to anyone else, you should contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP as soon as possible. Our Atlanta employment attorneys fight against wrongful termination cases, no matter if the act was carried out by a small business or an international corporation. Call 404.471.3725 to learn about all the ways we fight for the average worker’s rights.