As an employee, you have rights that deserve protecting, but it is not always clear what rights you have, especially when it comes to talking with co-workers. Many employers have narrow boundaries around what they consider “workplace appropriate” conversation, often to discourage offensive or disruptive behavior.
However, some companies also discourage or forbid employees from discussing their pay with each other. In social settings, many people are not comfortable discussing how much money they make, but it can be very helpful for employees to compare their pay and make sure they are fairly compensated.
Although your employer probably doesn’t want you to discuss your pay with your coworkers, and may discourage it heavily, you probably have the right to do so. As always, however, it is wise to review the relevant laws to make sure that you have a firm grasp on your own circumstances and the rights you need to protect.
Discussing your pay is an employee right
Under the National Labor relations act, it is legal to talk about the terms of your employment with other employees. The pay that you receive at your job is part of these terms, as well as any benefits that you receive.
In practice, many employers go as far as they legally can without violating these rights. This may mean that managers and HR representatives discourage these types of conversations between workers without forbidding them, or may remind employees that it is time to get back to work.
If an employer retaliates against an employee for discussing their pay in some way, then they may face serious legal consequences. Whenever an employee takes on the burden of fighting to enforce their rights, they are fighting for the fair treatment of all workers, so these experiences should not be taken lightly.
Discussions an employer may forbid
While employees do generally have the right to discuss their pay with other employees, an employer may still limit their ability to discuss their pay with individuals outside of work, in some cases. While not all employers go to the trouble of limiting these discussions, such a ban may hold up as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
It is also possible for an employer to limit employee conversations that interfere with performing their duties, but this should not only apply to pay or any other topic of conversation.
Protecting your rights as an employee in New Jersey is one of the most important stands you can take, for yourself and for others. Don’t miss an opportunity to protect and enforce your rights, making workplaces throughout your industry more employee-friendly.