Employee Rights Are Violated by Employers Who Punish Workers for Pay Discussions in the Workplace

Does your employer prohibit you from discussing your pay with a co-worker? Has your supervisor ever told you not to discuss your pay with your co-workers? If so, your employer’s pay secrecy policy may be violating the law.

Pay secrecy policies in the workplace are generally prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which was passed in 1935 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many employers and employees are unaware that pay secrecy policies are generally unlawful even though such policies are quite common in the workplace. Generally, it is illegal for an employer to wrongfully discharge or retaliate against an employee for discussing his or her pay with a co-worker.

We Defend Workers Whose Employee Rights Have Been Violated

The employment lawyers at Kilgore & Kilgore represent employees who have been wrongfully terminated or who have suffered retaliation in the workplace. If you believe your employee rights have been violated, and wish to know more about our employment law practice, click here Employment Retaliation to learn more about the laws governing employee rights. To connect with an employment lawyer for a free review of the facts of your case, click here Contact Kilgore & Kilgore.

The NLRA Protects Employee Rights

Section 7 (29 U.S.C. § 157) of the NLRA gives employees the right to “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” This section gives employees the right to discuss with each other the terms and conditions of their employment when they are trying to improve those terms and conditions. Section 8 of the same statute prohibits employers from interfering with employee rights under Section 7.

Based on Sections 7 and 8, both the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and courts have held that it is unlawful for an employer to forbid its employees from discussing their pay and benefits with each other. Sections 7 and 8 of the NLRA apply to both union and non-union employees.

Some states, but not Texas, have their own laws that prohibit pay secrecy policies and provide protection to employees.

The protections of Sections 7 and 8 of the NLRA are not without some exceptions, however. Supervisors of employees, for example, are not shielded from pay secrecy policies. Certain employees, such as human resources or payroll managers, have access to employee pay information in the normal course of their jobs. They probably would not be permitted to discuss pay and benefits with employees. Furthermore, the NLRA does not cover employees who are employed by federal, state, or local governments and some other particular kinds of employees.

President Barack Obama Protected Employee Rights

Two executive actions taken by President Barack Obama in 2014 affecting federal contractors are consistent with bolstering pay transparency and the principle of equal pay for equal work. One action was the signing of an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliation against employees who discuss pay information with each other. The other action was the issuance of a presidential memorandum that requires federal contractors to disclose to the NLRB certain employee compensation information, including by race and sex.

When Employee Rights Are Violated, the NLRB Can Help

If an employee is wrongfully discharged or experiences retaliation by an employer for discussing pay information, the employee can file a charge with the NLRB. The NLRB investigates charges and enforces the provisions of the NLRA. If the NLRB finds that the law has been violated, it can order an employer to provide back pay or reinstate the aggrieved employee.

Pay transparency promotes equality in the workplace and the goal of achieving equal pay for equal work. Employees have the right under the NLRA to discuss their pay and benefits with each other in order to improve their working conditions and to achieve pay equity. If you believe that your employee rights under the NLRA have been violated, click here Contact Kilgore & Kilgore to connect with an employment attorney at Kilgore & Kilgore for a free review of the facts of your case.

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