Whether they started from workplace stigmas or controlling employers, many myths revolving around the workplace keep employees from being comfortable and open with their team members and managers. Today, we are going to focus on one of the most talked about myths within Missouri and the nation– Can you talk about your pay?
The topic of pay continues to be a controversial one, but as we are more than halfway through 2023, things need to change. Employees are learning their worth and standing up for themselves now more than ever, and that should extend to the conversation of pay.
False: It Is Completely Legal to Talk About Pay
This myth is false. Employees are entirely within their rights to talk about pay with each other and are protected under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA specifically labels these conversations as “protected concerted activities” and defines them as when employees “take action for their mutual aid or protection.”
What Employers Can Not Do
Much of the misconception of speaking about pay starts with the employers. However, there are certain things that an employer cannot do under the NLRA and are considered to be unlawful.
- Employers can not forbid employees from talking about their pay or other working conditions– whether verbally or written in the workplace handbook.
If you were handed an employee handbook that clearly states that employees will be penalized for speaking about pay or other unfair working practices (in-person or online), then that is an immediate red flag and goes against the laws put in place to protect you. You do not need to abide by that rule.
What Employers Can Do
The topic of pay can be a problematic one to begin with, as people can be paid differently based on education, experience, and seniority. It is essential that employees understand these tiers so that conversations can be open and transparent with fellow employees and employers. To do this, employers can do a myriad of things to make a comfortable and healthy work environment.
- Employers can encourage a safe and open environment for their employees.
- Employers can pay their employees a fair wage in the first place. (Minimum wage in Missouri as of 2023 is $12.00)
- Provide insight and education about how pay is regulated and chosen to ensure fairness among employees.
- Employers can communicate with their employees to better understand the working environment and see where changes and improvements can be made.
What Should You Do If You’re Told Otherwise
If you have been penalized for speaking about your pay to co-workers or have been explicitly told not to by your employer, you should not be quiet. You and your fellow employees have full right to speak on pay, and if you are told otherwise, you can report to the National Labor Relations Board or call them to inform them of the unlawful acts being conducted in your workplace.
If you have been wrongly terminated for these reasons, find an attorney to help defend and stand up for your rights to ensure you get what you are owed. Don’t let old “rules” and stipulations stop you from acting rightfully in your place of employment.
If you have found yourself in this situation or have questions, contact the team at Baldwin & Vernon.