Your boss gives you a raise, but they also tell you that they don’t want you to discuss that raise with any of your coworkers. Maybe they make some vague reference to how it could cause problems or be bad for morale. They tell you that you’re not allowed to talk about wages, so you simply shouldn’t let anyone else know that you are now making more money than you were before – and perhaps more money than they are for the same job.
This seems a bit suspect to you, naturally, so the first thing you do is go to your coworkers and discuss your raise. Your boss hears about it and writes you up, saying that your position will be terminated if it happens again. Can they do this?
Employees have a right to talk about wages
No, an employer who does this is violating federal laws. You do have a right to talk about your wages. This can happen at work or outside of work. It can be done in writing. It can be done face-to-face. It can happen with employees who have a union and those who do not. Your boss cannot prohibit you from doing so, even if they believe that they are allowed to make such a rule.
What if it’s in the company handbook?
In situations like this, the company will often have a policy saying that their employees can’t talk about wages. If you bring up that you can’t legally be prohibited from doing so, your boss may try to wave it away as if this is just a unique policy that they have, saying they can make whatever rules they want for their employees.
But, even if your boss believes it, this is not the case. The law directly states that “policies that specifically prohibit the discussion of wages are unlawful.”
Your boss is violating your rights simply by having the policy in place. But they are violating them again by retaliating against you and writing you up for talking about your wages. In a situation like this, you definitely need to know about your legal options.