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Employment Law/Employees discussing pay rates


May I, as an employer, tell my employees that they cannot discuss their pay amongst other employees or else they will lose their job?  I am from Michigan.

It is illegal for you to tell your employees that they will lose their job if they discuss their pay with other co workers. It is not legal for you or a supervisor to tell someone's wages but if the employee talks about it to others it is his constitutional right.

The National Labor Relations Act says that employers cannot prevent employees from discussing wages and working conditions among themselves. The idea is that employees need to be free to organize, and preventing them from discussing these topics would prevent them from organizing.

(There are some exceptions to this though. An employer can prohibit these discussions from taking place during times when people are supposed to working. And while employees can freely share information about their pay with other employees, they wouldn’t be protected by the law if they obtained information about other employees’ pay through files known to be off-limits to them or if they get others to break access restrictions and give them confidential information. In other words, Tom can tell you how much he makes, but getting the bookkeeper to tell you how much Tom is making wouldn’t be protected by the law.)

However, the law only applies to discussions within the organization. An employer can prohibit employees from discussing salary outside the organization.

It would be legal for them to discuss in the break room but not on social media.


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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR


I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).


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