In the past, you’ve had some issues at your business where employees decided to discuss their pay and were unhappy when they found out that it wasn’t exactly the same. This caused friction among groups of employees that previously worked very well together. That was clearly detrimental to your business and the morale of the employees in general, so you’ve decided to ask them not to have these conversations in the future.
You don’t mean anything malicious by it, and you’re just trying to create a happy workplace for everyone, but then one of your employees tells you that you’re not allowed to prohibit those conversations. Is this employee correct or are you allowed to tell employees not to talk about pay?
Conversations about pay are federally protected
In a case like this, despite your good intentions, your employee is technically correct. There are federal protections for workers guaranteeing that they can discuss their pay with each other. It is illegal for employers to tell them that they are not allowed to do so. Transparency is more important, even when it may create friction between workers who feel they should earn more.
As such, this is not a policy you would want to implement, or you could face legal action. It’s better to think of other ways to reduce this friction, such as paying workers equally or being open and honest about the different pay rates so that workers at least understand the rationale behind these decisions.
If you do find yourself facing a lawsuit, or if there is one aimed at your business directly, then you may need to look into your legal options.