Q. It has always been a rule in our workplace that employees’ individual compensation information is to be kept confidential and is not to be discussed with co-workers. I recently had to write up one of my employees for violating this policy. That employee told me that my rule prohibiting discussion of wage information is illegal. Is this true?
A. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employer interference with employees’ rights to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with others. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the NLRA, has long taken the position that employment rules that prohibit the discussion of wage information have a “chilling effect” on employees’ rights under the NLRA and thus violate the act.
In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that a policy that prohibits employees from discussing their compensation violates the NLRA even if the employer does not enforce it.
So your employee is correct: The NLRA prohibits employers from implementing workplace rules that forbid employees from discussing wage information. This is the case even if the employees are not represented by a union.