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Can companies prohibit wage discussions? Not without breaking the law

March 21, 2018 at 3:28 pm


Discussing your salary with other workers is protected by law. 

Here’s a great topic from the latest HR Snapshot.

The question comes from an employer, who asks, “Can I prohibit wage discussions?” Basically, the employer wants to know if he can tell workers not to discuss their hourly rate or salary.

Here’s the short answer: No.

For the details, here’s the full HR Snapshot article:

Employers may not prohibit, or even discourage, employees from discussing their wages with one another. Likewise, employers may not in any way discipline or retaliate against an employee for discussing their wages or other terms and conditions of employment. Prohibitions of this nature infringe upon employees’ protected rights under Section 7 the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA.

The NLRA grants all employees (not just those in unions) the right to organize and engage in “concerted activity . . . for the purpose of mutual aid or protection.” This includes discussions about wages, benefits, managers, facilities, safety issues, and just about anything else that two or more employees might have a stake in, or opinion about. As a result, the protections provided by the NLRA are broad. Here are a few examples of protected activity:

  • Employees discussing how much they are being paid, whether via email, break room chat, or a conversation on someone’s Facebook wall;
  • Individual employee complaints regarding wages or employment conditions, if they reflect general workforce discontent or are attempting to elicit the support of co-employees to correct a problem;
  • Employees discussing improving working conditions with other employees;
  • Circulating a petition asking for better hours;
  • Participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions;
  • Employees joining with co-workers to talk directly to the employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in the workplace.

The National Labor Relations Board, which rules on cases related to NLRA violations, has been saying loud and clear – since the 80’s – that discussion of wages is an absolutely protected right. Distributing or enforcing a policy to the contrary is akin to having a policy that says the employer doesn’t pay minimum wage or overtime. We strongly recommend that employers immediately eliminate any written or unwritten policy telling employees that discussion of wages is discouraged or prohibited, or that wages are confidential, and also discontinue any written or unwritten policy of disciplining or terminating employees for this behavior.

At Strovis Payroll & HR, we help your company stay on top of not just your payroll services but also the ever-changing labor laws. For more about how we can help your company, go to our website at Strovis Payroll & HR. There you can request a demo or a quote.

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Expanding your workforce? If it will take you above 15 employees, keep in mind these added regulations

March 16, 2018 at 6:33 pm

When you reach more 15 or more employees, there are more regulations you must adhere to.

For our latest HR Snapshot, we have some advice on what federal laws say about companies with 15 or more employees.

Once you have 15 employees, the federal laws below would apply to you. Here is a brief summary of what you need to know about them:

• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Protects qualified individuals with disabilities from unlawful employment discrimination, prohibits discrimination where an individual is able to perform their essential job functions, and requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals unless doing so would place an undue hardship on the employer.

• Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): Prohibits the use of genetic information in employment and restricts employers from requesting or requiring genetic information.

• Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): Protects pregnant employees from being retaliated against in any way due to pregnancy, child birth, or any related medical conditions.

• Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: Prohibits discrimination in all terms and conditions of employment (including pay and benefits) on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. Note that several federal courts have ruled that sex includes sexual orientation, and one has ruled that it includes gender identity, as well.

There may also be state laws that apply as your company grows.

At Strovis Payroll & HR, we make sure your company adheres to employment laws, both on state and federal levels.

If you would like more information on how we can help your company as it grows, reach out to us for a free quote. Just click here: Strovis Payroll Quote.

For more information about our company, as well as testimonials, watch this short video: The Strovis Difference.


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