Salary Discussion Bans Are a Big Legal No-No

AriesAviator posted the following question in the LegalAdvice subreddit:

Boss just threatened to fire me and another co-worker because we were discussing a raise we both got- what should I do?

We both got pulled into a group chat over the app our work uses, and the first message reads as follows;

Hey I don’t want to here about your raises with the other crew members we talked about this before, other places have strict rules either termination or reversal of the raise this is not okay, Don’t turn something we tried to do nice for you too into a pain for us.

Which, uh, what the fuck?

I’m pretty fucking sure everything in there is MASSIVELY illegal.

AriesAviator wins the labor law Kewpie doll.

Policies prohibiting pay-discussions among employees, or retaliating against employees who discuss how much they make, are per se illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what the NLRB said on this very issue in Boeing Co.:

Rules that the Board … designates as unlawful to maintain because they … prohibit or limit NLRA-protected conduct, and the adverse impact on NLRA rights is not outweighed by justifications associated with the rule. An example … would be a rule that prohibits employees from discussing wages or benefits with one another.

So, AriesAviator, to answer your (albeit crassly asked) question, your employer’s response is 100 percent illegal, and, if you want to make a big deal out of it, jaunt over to your local NLRB office and file an unfair labor practice charge. It’s a pretty open and shut case.

Employers, if you have such policies in your handbooks, or have made such statements to your employees in the past, stop. It’s as easy of an unfair labor practice into which you can stumble.

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