Human Resources Consulting - Columbia SC

Do NOT Ban Employees From Discussing Their Salaries

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy. The law is administered by a 5 member panel in Washington D.C. known as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While the primary focus of the law is to deal with collective bargaining (Unions), there is a little known section which deals with what the law refers to as “Protected Concerted Activity”, also known as Section VII rights. In Section VII of the NLRA, employees are given the right to engage in discussions among themselves concerning wages, benefits, salaries or other terms and conditions of employment.

Although this law has been in effect since 1935, a surprising number of employers still attempt to prohibit employees from discussing their compensation among themselves. The NLRB has repeatedly held that non-supervisory employee discussions of compensation fall under the Protected Concerted Activity clause of Section VII. An employer who terminates, or otherwise disciplines, employees for discussing wages among themselves has therefore broken the law and will be subject to fines, penalties and possible other sanctions.
However, please remember that the law protects not only the discussion of wagers, but also other terms and conditions of employment such as:

  • Two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay.
  • Two or more employees discussing work-related issues beyond pay, such as safety concerns, with each other.
  • An employee speaking to an employer on behalf of one or more co-workers about improving workplace conditions.

Attempts by employers to stifle these employee conversations will inevitably result in difficult legal claims as well as continuing disruption among employees who might be subject to this type of employer rule or policy.


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Paul Hilton, Human Resources Consulting, LLC
Columbia, South Carolina
Office: (803) 481-9533
Cell: (803) 305-8962 

Paul Hilton, Human Resources Consulting, LLC