When The Boss Says, “Don’t Discuss Wages”

Companies will do everything they can to pay their workers as little as possible, even if it’s illegal. 

One of the biggest lies employers tell their workers is that discussing wages with coworkers is against policy. Stories have popped up all over the popular Antiwork subreddit about managers reprimanding employees for this “inappropriate behavior.”

Hostess Scolded for Salary Talks

A restaurant hostess came to Reddit after her boss reprimanded her for talking about salary. She was the most seasoned hostess at the restaurant but discovered the two newer hostesses were making more money. 

She went to her boss with this information, asking for a raise. 

The boss ultimately gave in, but not without warning her that she shouldn’t be having those conversations. 

“She says, “I’m going to raise your pay to make it fair, but you really aren’t allowed to discuss pay at work, it even says so in the employee handbook, I’m not going to fire anyone or anything but just know talk about pay really has to stay between you and I,” reported the hostess. 

Coworkers Scolded

Another Reddit user posted a similar story. His two colleagues got pulled into the boss’s office and were scolded for discussing salary. 

He wasn’t included in the conversation, and he’s baffled as to why that would be. 

Users suggested that he might be getting the short end of the salary stick. 

Salary Confidential

A third user shared that he got a massive raise, but his boss warned him he’d be fired if he told anyone. 

“At the end, my boss told me that the salary and the increase is confidential, and if they hear us talking about the subject, we are fired,” they shared. 

Why Companies Hate Salary Talks

The hostess’s story highlights why companies hate it when employees discuss salary. When she discovered she was underpaid, she demanded more, costing the company money

Secrecy about wages and the entire concept that discussing salary is taboo only benefits business owners. If they convince workers not to discuss compensation, they can get away with paying good people less. 

Workers won’t demand higher salaries if they don’t realize they’re being mistreated. 

Illegal in the US

Unfortunately for most companies, the National Labor Relations Act forbids them from preventing employee salary discussions. 

Companies can not legally tell workers they can’t talk about their wages. Affected employees can sue for lost wages and compensation. 

The Labor Board is reviewing even stricter penalties and may implement civil penalties for egregious and ongoing violations. 

Outside the US

The poster whose boss said his raise was confidential doesn’t live in the US but said his country is considering a similar law. 

Many European countries already have stronger labor protections, allowing employees to discuss salary freely without fear of retaliation. 

Taboo Salary Talks Need To Go

Companies did a great job convincing us that salary is a taboo topic, but it only served their interests. 

Discussing salaries helps workers. It ensures equal payment for equal work and fair compensation across the board. 

So talk salary with your coworkers! You may be shocked at how little you make compared to them.

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.