Protections of Labor Law Apply to All
Byline: ON THE JOB by Dan Grinfas For The Register-Guard
Q: Is it legal to restrict employees from talking about their wages? Could we implement a policy that makes salary levels confidential and tell employees they'll be subject to discipline for discussing their compensation?
A: A federal court has ruled that this type of policy prohibiting salary discussions violates the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA.
The NLRA provides employees the right to "self-organization" and to engage in "concerted activities" for the purpose of collective bargaining "or other mutual aid or protection." And according to the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, this means that employers may not forbid workers from discussing wages and other working conditions.
Many employers believe that the NLRA applies only to unionized work forces with a collective bargaining agreement. In fact, the law applies to all employers, including those with nonunion workplaces.
The case that upheld the NLRB interpretation was NLRB vs. Main Street Terrace Care Center, decided in 2000 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
When Mary Craig was hired as a dietary aide at an Ohio nursing home, her supervisor instructed her that management did not want her salary to be known and she should not discuss wages with anyone because it "caused hard feelings."
Craig later participated in a meeting with the company payroll clerk to discuss problems with a paycheck her daughter (also an employee) had received. She also assisted other employees with pay-related questions. The company subsequently discharged Craig, and she filed an NLRB complaint alleging an unfair labor practice. …