May My Employer In New Jersey Prohibit Me From Asking About, Discussing, Or Disclosing My Salary Or The Salary Of Another Employee?
No, your employer in New Jersey may not bar you from discussing or disclosing your salary or the salary of another worker. Such action by an employer violates both New Jersey law and federal law.
New Jersey Law
Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (the “NJLAD”), it is an unlawful employment practice or, as the case may be, an unlawful discrimination “for any employer to take reprisals against any employee for requesting from, discussing with, or disclosing to, any other employee or former employee of the employer, a lawyer from whom the employee seeks legal advice, or any government agency information regarding the job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation, including benefits, of the employee or any other employee or former employee of the employer, . . . regardless of whether the request was responded to.”
So, too, under the NJLAD, it is unlawful for an employer “to require, as a condition of employment, any employee or prospective employee to sign a waiver, or to otherwise require an employee or a prospective employee to agree not to make those requests or disclosures” about the job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation, including benefits, of the employee or any other employee or former employee of the employer.
This statutory language explicitly prohibits employers in New Jersey from retaliating against workers who disclose their wages and other information about their job titles, occupational categories, and so forth.
In addition, employers cannot require employees or prospective employees in New Jersey to waive their rights to make, discuss or request those disclosures.
Further, workers in New Jersey who seek legal advice, share relevant information with a lawyer, or give information to a government body are likewise shielded from retaliation.
In addition to this New Jersey statute, federal law prohibits an employer from requiring you to keep your salary information confidential from other employees.
In particular, section 7 of the Federal National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) prohibits an employer from interfering with their employees’ right to self-organization, including their freedom to engage in concerted activities for collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. This right of employees to self-organization includes, but is not limited to, formal activities such as establishing a labor union. Among other things, section 7 of the NLRA also protects your right to have informal communications with your coworkers about compensation without fear of retaliation.
More specifically, section 7 of the NLRA provides that “[e]mployees shall have the right . . . to engage in . . . concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
Section 8(a) of the NLRA renders it an unlawful labor practice for an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed in” section 7 of the NLRA.
That is, sections 7 and 8(a) of the NLRA protect employees who “engage in . . . concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
Importantly, sections 7 and 8(a) of the NLRA does not just protect employees who engage in union activities or work in a unionized environment. This federal statute also protects non-unionized employees who engage in concerted activities for the purpose of “mutual aid or protection.”
As a result, even where employees are not union members, those non-union employees, when they engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection, are protected by sections 7 and 8(a) of the NLRA.
Activity is “concerted” when an employee engages in the activity “with or on the authority of other employees, and not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself.” The definition of “concerted activity” encompasses those circumstances where individual employees seek to initiate or to induce or to prepare for group action as well as individual employees bringing truly group complaints for the attention of management.
Just as your employer in New Jersey may not bar you from orally discussing or disclosing your salary or the salary of another worker, your employer in the Garden State may not prohibit you from sharing compensation information, with coworkers, by electronic means. When employees discuss compensation with one another in a visual forum such as online message boards or personal blogs, the NJLAD and the NLRA still protect them.
That said, neither the NJLAD nor the NLRA authorizes employees to publicly disparage a company’s products or services. Therefore, in certain circumstances, an employer may lawfully discipline employees who combine compensation discussions with substantial criticism of the employer’s business or products.
If you are an executive or a professional in the New York City metro area and you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated or that you’ve been denied salary, bonuses, commissions, or other wages that are owed to you, call New York City Employment Lawyer David S. Rich at (201) 740-2828 today.
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