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Can my employer bar me from discussing wages?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Labor Law |

In workplaces these days, discussing wages is commonplace. But employers sometimes try to stifle these conversations. Can employers in New York legally restrict their employees from discussing their wages?

Federal labor law

According to the National Labor Relations Act, employees possess the right to communicate about their wages with their colleagues. This encompasses discussions conducted in various forms, such as in-person, over the phone or through written communication. Policies that explicitly forbid wage discussions are deemed unlawful, according to the NLRA. Additionally, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for engaging in such conversations about pay.

Federal consequences

According to the NLRA, if an employer breaches an employee’s right to discuss wages, the National Labor Relations Board can hold them accountable. These measures might involve reinstating employees who were wrongfully terminated. Additionally, they could provide backpay and rescind any illegal policies. Furthermore, the NLRB may require the employer to inform employees about their rights.

It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate or penalize an employee in any manner for engaging in discussions about pay. Should an employer engage in such actions, you can file a complaint with the NLRB.

New York labor law

New York labor law aligns with the principles outlined in the NLRA. Section 194 of New York Labor Law stipulates that employers cannot prohibit employees from discussing wages. However, employers are permitted to place “reasonable” limits on these discussions.

In New York, transgressions of labor laws carry significant repercussions. Should an employer be discovered violating the statutes that permit employees to freely discuss their compensation, they may encounter legal ramifications, such as penalties and the obligation to provide compensation to impacted employees.

Both federal and New York state labor laws safeguard employees’ rights to discuss their wages. Employers who attempt to restrict such discussions or retaliate against employees for partaking in them may be in violation of these laws. Consequently, employers in New York should be cognizant of these laws and ensure that their policies adhere to them.