Some employers believe that they can prohibit their employees from talking about how much they’re paid. They may try to prohibit them from asking their coworkers about their pay rates or bringing it up themselves. They simply want to put an end to all of these discussions.
However, it’s important for employees to know that doing so is illegal. Your employer cannot prohibit you from talking about wages. You can always inquire about them or have discussions with your coworkers about how much everyone is earning. If your employer finds out and fires you, that is illegal. This has been explicitly stated by the California Equal Pay Act, which was recently updated to make this very clear. Employers must know that they cannot prohibit these activities and conversations, even if they want to.
Why was this change made?
The problem with employers keeping their workers from talking about wages is that it can be used to suppress those wages. If a new hire is making more than someone who has been at the company for a while, that person may want to ask for a raise so that they’re being paid the same amount. It benefits the employer to stop these two people from talking about their wages so that they simply assume they’re making the same amount.
However, the law has been set up to stop employers from using this as a tactic to suppress how much they pay their employees. This law doesn’t dictate how much anyone can be paid. You do not have to be paid as much as your coworkers. But you should at least have the right to discuss it if you’d like to do so. This allows you to make a decision about whether or not you want to stay with that company. If your employer retaliates, then you need to know about your legal options.