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Discussing Pay with Coworkers Massachusetts

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  • Discussing Pay with Coworkers Massachusetts

    I have not had a raise in 2.5 years and I am working on building an argument for getting one.

    My Boss in notorious for not giving regualr raises and then counteroffering a NICE (up to 17%) raise when an employee gives their notice. I am aware of these offers, along with the salaries/hourly wages of all the employees in my company due to disucssions I have had with the other employees.

    My questions is...are these discussion illegal? Am I allowed to tell coworkers what I make per hour? My boss found out once that this happened about 4 years ago and started shouting out threats that it's illegale to disclose that information, and that in larger companies people can get fired for that sort of thing.

    I did not sign any agreement stating that my negotiated rate of pay or other benefits is to be confidential.

    I simply don't want to have to give notice every time I want more money! Can I use what I know in discussions with him as comparison?

  • #2
    Yes. Under the National Labor Relations Act, discussions among employees regarding their own salaries is a protected activity. For example, I can tell cbg what I make and Beth can tell me what she makes-that's protected. But if I tell cbg what Beth makes, that's not protected.

    Having said this, however, my recommendation is that you not use what other people are making as a justification for the employer giving you a raise. What you want to do is communicate to your employer what particular accomplishments you've had, your value to the company, what you've done over and above your required duties, etc. You can use current market rates for your position; but using "You owe me more money because you pay Mary more than me" is not going to hold water and may very likely end up with "Then go find another job".
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Maybe I wasn't clear. It's not about other people making more or less than I. It's his habbit of waiting until someone gives notice to offer them more. I'm basically am attemplting to imply that "before I give notice, pay me more or I'm gone"

      I figure pointing out the fact that He's had to make the offer more than once and has lost good people who were simply frustrated with a dead end job might help. I'm not even interested in talking numbers, just concepts.

      I'm not affraid of loosing my job. I have backup plans, I just want to make sure he can't discipline me for bringing up a concept.

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      • #4
        You are not owed an increase at any time. Barring a bona fide contract that guarantees raises at any given time, the only time either Federal or state law, in any state, requires that you be given a raise is if you are working at exactly minimum wage, and minimum wage is raised by either your state legislature or an act of Congress.

        If someone said to me, either directly or indirectly, Pay me more money or I'm gone, I'd tell them not to let the door hit them in the backside on their way out.

        No, I don't think your concept will help. I don't think pointing out anything about what he's had to do regarding other people's pay is going to make him more inclined to let you coerce him into a pay raise.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          While I understand cbg's sentiment, I think the ultimatum of pay me or I am gone, either direct or indirect, happens everyday in every industry ... and works. Case in point - your boss.

          However, I think a better argument is to demonstrate your worth to the employer, i.e., how you have increased sales or profit, streamlined certain processes, developed new strategies ... whatever is applicable. And I think you should feel free to subtley make reference to others salaries, especially if they have made them well-known. It is not illegal.

          My concern would be if in fact I got the "don't let the door"-response and actually had no back-up plan. However, if you are that valuable to the employer and deserve the boost in salary, then perhaps it will work. In fact, it is quite rare where an employer makes an unsolicited increase in pay anymore.

          An old basketball coach told me that you miss every shot you don't take ... it should never hurt to ask for more money, especially where you can provide cogent reasons for your request.

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          • #6
            In general I would agree with CBG, however you don't know my Boss. He has promised raises to other employees who haven't seen the raise for more than a year. He has cut pay because one woman was "sick too much" (we get 3 sick days a year and she needed a total of seven and HAD a doctors note). My boss is a jerk.

            The dilema is I love my job and I love my customers. I don't want to leave them.

            At this point, asking for a raise is a win/win situaion if I get fired I get a job with a nicer boss (the back up plan) and if I get the raise then the money makes it worth putting up with a crappy boss.

            I would not use ONLY the pay me more argument. I have documented proof of increased revenue, better organization in my department and so on... I just want to be able to hit him from multiple angles.

            What I needed to know is that this is legal and he can't take disciplinary action against me as he has threated to do to others. (he makes a lot of threats and does a lot of things he shouldn't - see my old thread about taking unauthorized deductions).
            Last edited by Rhubarb1979; 06-20-2006, 04:26 AM.

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            • #7
              What I needed to know is that this is legal and he can't take disciplinary action against me as he has threated to do to others.
              I don't mean to be harsh here, but you don't understand. Since he has not violated any laws by not giving you a raise, or by giving big raises when someone threatens to quit, you are NOT protected from disciplinary action if you complain. Or even if you just ask. Complaining internally about something that is not a violation of law is not protected under any whistleblower statues. If he was so inclined, he could fire you today because he didn't like your shoes.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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              • #8
                But it IS legal for him to take disciplinary action against you for asking for more money. Whatever did anyone say to suggest that it wasn't?
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                • #9
                  I realise anyone can be fired for any number of reasons. Not liking my shoes would be an interesting one, but I'm hoping it doesn't happen.

                  I just want to know that if he says "you're not allowed to know that, it's confidential, it's illegal to discuss" I can reply by saying "it's not illegal, it's well within my rights"

                  If he chooses to fire me for that, I can accept it. I just don't want to be in the wrong. I don't want to break the law.

                  Additionally, my boss has called the companies that have hired our ex-workers to tell the new companies that they just hired alcoholics, liars, people who broke the law, etc.

                  Again, I'm looking to make sure I do no wrong. This is just in case I need to defend myself to a new employer or my current employer.

                  If I'm not breaking the law and he chooses to fire me, I can live with that becasue it's his stupidity. If I break the law and get fired for it, that's my stupidity and is something I wish to avoid.

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                  • #10
                    You do not have a "right" to know the pay of your co-workers. Nor does your employer have a "right" to keep such information confidential under all circumstances. However, under the scenario you presented it would not be unlawful not to disclose this information to you nor would it be unlawful for you to ask.

                    Why would it be necessary to defend yourself? Under circumstances where your then-former boss would contact your new employer? If he were to do so and provide false and potential harmful information he opens himself and maybe the company to potential civil liabilities.
                    Last edited by rjc; 06-21-2006, 06:33 AM.

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                    • #11
                      However, under the situation you describe, he is not obligated to divulge the information to you either. You may ask; he may either provide it or not as he chooses and either is within his legal rights.
                      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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