Every worker has the right to a fair and equal wage based on their skills, experience, position and job performance. However, companies sometimes factor other characteristics into their decisions, including sex and race. They may try to prevent workers from discovering these discrepancies by instituting rules that forbid their employees from discussing their wages.
Can your employer take punitive action against you if they discover that you have disclosed your wages to your co-workers or ask them what they earn?
Discussing wages is a protected activity
Many companies do have policies that claim it is a violation of company rules to discuss your compensation. However, federal laws about the rights of workers to equal pay and the right to organize are more important than company policy. Being able to discuss what you make is crucial to your ability to organize or fight back against unfair or discriminatory compensation practices by an employer.
Your right to a fair wage and to organize or unionize with your co-workers is more important than the company’s right to restrict your behavior via an employment contract or employee handbook. Although your employer may include rules against discussing your income with your co-workers, they cannot effectively enforce such policies without risking litigation from the workers they punished.
If your employer writes you up or terminates you for discussing your wages with other employees, you may have grounds to bring an employment law claim against them. Gathering evidence for a wage claim is not a justification for your employer to punish you, and you can fight back if they try.