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Can Employees Discuss Wages?

Often times employers want employees to keep their compensation information private and not discuss it with their co-workers. It seems logical, but is it legal? Generally, NO.  It is illegal for employers to prohibit or prevent non-management employees from openly discussing their wages, among other topics, with other employees.

Sass Employment Blog Can employees discuss wages

What The Law Says:

The federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which applies to most private employers and the Florida Public Employee Relations Act (PERA), which applies to state, county and local government employers, prohibit company policies or rules designed to prevent non-management employees from talking about or sharing information regarding the terms and conditions of employment, including wages.

The NLRA and PERA also make it unlawful for a covered employer to discipline, discharge or otherwise retaliate against employees who do discuss their wages. These violations are often called unfair labor practices, or ULPs.  There may be other laws that also protect employees’ or contractors’ rights to discuss compensation.

Where Do You File A Claim?

For NLRA violations: File with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that enforces the NLRA. Employees have six months from when they knew or should have known of the violation to file a complaint.

For PERA violations: File a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC), the agency responsible for enforcing PERA.  Employees have six months from when they knew or should have known of the violation to file a claim.

After filing a complaint, if there is enough evidence to support a complaint, these agencies will perform an investigation and/or set it for hearing for an administrative judge to decide.

So, What Can Employees Recover?

Employers who violate the NLRA or PERA by having an unlawful policy that prohibits discussing wages will most likely be required to post a notice at their work site(s) that they will comply with the law.

If an employer violates the NLRA or PERA by disciplining, discharging or otherwise retaliating against an employee for discussing pay with other employees, the NLRB or PERC can award back pay to an employee and/or reinstate the employee to their position, if they were terminated.

PERC can also award attorneys’ fees and costs if the employee prevails under PERA.

Who Is Not Covered?

Generally, employers can require supervisory and managerial employees to keep employee compensation confidential.

Have more questions about the NLRA, PERA or your rights about discussing wagesConsult with an experienced labor and employment attorney who can evaluate your case and assist you in fighting for your rights before the NLRB or PERC.

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