Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yes, you can reveal your wages!

Have you ever heard this from a supervisor or HR rep? Has an employer (union or non-union) ever made you sign a contract saying you agree not to reveal your salary, or made any comments related to keeping your salary a secret?

Every year since we started conducting our annual wage survey, we hear from a few people who say they can't fill it out because they agreed to keep their salaries secret.

Did you know that this is illegal?

Yes, section 232 of the California Labor Code prohibits employers from:

  • requiring as a condition of employment that any employee refrain from disclosing the amount of their wages [§232(a)];
  • requiring an employee to sign a waiver of their right to disclose their wages (such as a personal service contract) [§232(b)]; or
  • discharging, formally disciplining, or otherwise discriminating against an employee who discloses the amount of their wages [§232(c)].

The language of the state code can be found here, along with complaint forms to be filed with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.

In short, the law is clear -- you have the right to disclose and discuss your wages with anybody, or to choose of your own free will not to disclose. And no, they're not allowed to "drop hints" or other subtle coercion. ("Gee, it'd be swell if you didn't ...")

If you want to stand up for your right to share wage information with others, including the Guild or other employees, report any such threats to the Guild office at once.


Rubber Onion said...

Is there something similar in NY? I googled it and didn't find anything concrete

Jeff Massie said...

Although there is currently no such law in New York State, there is a bill in the NY State Assembly -- S. 5674, the so-called "Wage And Transparency Act" -- that would protect employees against discharge or discrimination in a similar manner. Among other things, it will make it easier to take action against employers guilty of wage discrimination due to race, gender, etc.

The law is discussed here (PDF) and it can be found here.

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