prohibiting employees from discussing wages

  1. This discussion was a side note in another discussions, but thought it so interesting, it needed to be addressed separately.
    Agree or disagree with the ruling?



    The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in National Labor Relations Board v. Main Street Terrace Care Center, 218F.3d 531, 534 (6th Cir. 2000), recently joined several other United States Courts of Appeal in determining that a rule prohibiting employees from discussing their wages constitutes an unfair labor practice under Section 8(a)(1) of the National LaborRelations Act.

    Section 8(a)(1) makes it unlawful for employers to "interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of certain protected rights.. While most employers would prefer that their employees not discuss their wages, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently found a rule to that effect to be unlawful.

    In NLRB v Main Street Terrace Care Center, 200 WL 890892 (6th Cir. 2000), two different employees were told by their managers that they were not allowed to discuss how much money they were making with other employees because it caused hard feelings among employees. The National Labor Relations Board found that the rule violated the National Labor Relations Act, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

    It rejected the company's arguments that the rule was not written, nor did its managers have company authority to promulgate such a rule. It ruled that it didn't matter whether the rule was written or oral, since verbal warnings by supervisors who have the authority to discipline and discharge are coercive and tend to prohibit protected discussions.

    Employers may not prohibit employees from discussing conditions of their employment with one anther - it's a protected concerted activity. Pay being a condition of employment, you can't prohibit "Joe" from discussing his pay with "Mary." But you can prohibit "Mary" from blabbing what Joe told her to somebody else and you certainly can enforce confidentiality standards for people in payroll, HR, managers, etc
    Last edit by ageless on May 21, '02
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   fedupnurse
    I agree with the ruling. Employers try to censor us enough. If they can forbid us from talking about our wages, what will be the next forbidden topic? I think if someone has been employed by an institution for 10 years they should be making significantly more than a new nurse. This is why employers don't want us to know details about each other's employment, it is harder for them to get away with these unethical practices.
  4. by   -jt
    <<It ruled that it didn't matter whether the rule was written or oral, since verbal warnings by supervisors who have the authority to discipline and discharge are coercive>>

    thats the most important statement there.

    Might be applied to other unwritten rules too - like when your manager feels free to threaten you with the fact that she is "noticing" you dont volunteer for much overtime & will "remember" it.
  5. by   NurseExplorer
    I like this ruling.

    I probably won't be discussing conditions of my employment w/other employees but I can exercise this right if I choose to.
  6. by   P_RN
    What I make is MY business, and if I want to have printed it in the newspaper headlines that's MY right. If I want to keep it a deep dark secret, that's MY right also.

    Good ruling!
  7. by   ClariceS
    I agree with P_RN. After this I am also glad I work for a place that has a written pay practice that has to be followed.

    Fairness for all!
  8. by   duckie
    Anyone know where I could get a legal copy of this posting? How would I find it under the laws? Last year our administrator posted a memo forbidding anyone to discuss their wages or they would be "dealt with". I thought then that the posting was a bit much but I sure would love a copy of where that law is written cause our raise time is coming up and I expect another such memo.
  9. by   NurseExplorer
    Last edit by NurseExplorer on May 22, '02
  10. by   JillR
    If the employers were to compensate employees farely, with consideration to longevity and such, across the board, there would not have to be fear of "hard feelings among employees." The hard feelings come from unfair labor practices, and hiring new employees and new grads at a high rate and not compensating employees for longevity.
  11. by   canoehead
    Jeepers, that darn free speech thing cropping up again.

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