Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Talking Money at Work

Today's Wall Street Journal discusses workers willingness to talk with their peers about what they are being paid as a generational change. Workers Share Their Salary Secrets. But as the article notes, in the past many employers prohibited such talk.

Even though such rules may have gone unchallenged, that is one practice that the NLRB has long held infringes an employee's rights under the NLRA. Given that many employers don't think about the NLRB or the NLRA because they don't have a union, my guess is quite a few Journal readers today are saying to themselves, "Wow, I didn't know we couldn't do that."

Before the latest procedural tangle that has ensnared the Board, was making a much greater effort to assert its role in the lives of non-union employers, and I don't see that effort subsiding in the future. Once (if?) we have a duly constituted Board, I am afraid that many non-union employers may be making similar statements more frequently.

Employer rules of this sort are illegal already in California.
One of the more unique cases that arose in the Newark region of the NLRB in the 60's came about when a trio of unhappy female workers complained to a high strung ceramic artist about the lack of clean towels in the rest rooms. The artist had a thriving business selling his ceramic creations at high prices; enough to meet the jurisdictional standards of the Board, so he learned, to his chagrin, he couldn't fire what he viewed as a group of unappreciative employees. It was in fact a classic case of discrimination for engaging in "protected concerted activity."
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