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Can co-workers talk about their wages?
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Can co-workers talk about their wages?

I am just curious to know the exact wording and law behind this; can co-workers talk freely about their respective wages legally?

I had an HR course a few years back and my professor mentioned that it is legal to do so, but I cannot remember the law that declares this act legal. Someone had mentioned it is the right for employees to organize which sounds very close and logical. If anyone has the law in verbatim, that would be appreciated.


I couldn't help but chuckle when I read this question. Not taking the mickey out of you here or anything like that, just made me laugh that we've actually got to a point now where people think the law tells us what we can do rather than what we cannot - very telling of society and the present government but I won't get into that now!!! Basically with the law if it is not mentioned (and by that I mean there is no case law aswell) it is o.k. Certain pieces of legislation seek to expressly protect rights but these are typically enactments of wider reaching E.U legislation.

There is no law that makes it expressly illegal to discuss what wages you are on with co-workers and no law which expressly protects a right to do so. Having said that you should certainly tread carefully on this subject as I have read contracts which contain terms stopping employees from discussing their respective remuneration and doing so can constitute breach of contract on your part if this is the case. This can lead to disciplinary action or even dismissal. So on this one I would certainly say check your contract - if it is not expressly mentioned then you are safe to discuss such details without fear. Also, minor point but verbatim means 'word for word' so you can't have it 'in verbatim' it's just verbatim. Don't mean to be anal, it's just a pet peeve and I figure if I politely point it out you'll know for the future.

No matter what the law says, it's not wise to discuss your pay with anyone else. There are reasons for different people to be paid different amounts, and fighting to get the same salary as someone else, in this day and age, could lose your own job for you.
Organized employees? That sounds like a union. I'm not sure you want that.

in MOST states the employer may have a policy that bans these discussions and discipline that may include termination for failing to follow the policy.
a very few states such as California make this a protected activity and as such the employers in those very, very few states may not set such a policy or discipline an employee for such discussions.
there is no federal law on the subject. free speech laws do not apply

our "rights" are in relation to government infringement not the private sector.

Steve M
Generally a person can discuss their pay unless their contract prohibits it. It is generally not considered wise to do so however. It may lead to problems for yourself, or the person you speak with, especially if their is a discrepancy.

Doctor Deth
state the law that declares it ILLEGAL - This is a free country. you can't censor what people talk about - most employers tell you not to talk about it because two people doing the same job may be making different salaries, and the lesser paid one is going to be upset, but hey - there could be a dozen reasons why that difference in pay exists

Employees can talk among themselves about their wages - but employers don't like them to.

if company policy says you can;t then don't , they make rules about this for a variety of reason

Pale Rider
This is America, you can talk about whatever you want.

It is protected speech under the National Labor Relations Act. I don't have the exact language for you, though, There are some instances when it is illegal, from what I gather. For example, if you are an HR employee, you're not allowed to disclose other people's salaries.

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