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US Labor Board: It's OK To Discuss Work and Pay with Coworkers On Social Sites

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the lets-talk-numbers dept.

The Internet 289

itwbennett writes "Your employer won't like it, but they can't stop you from discussing working conditions and compensation with your coworkers on social media. In his most recent social media memo, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Lafe Solomon said that in 6 of the 7 employers' social media policies he reviewed, he found violations of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows employees to join labor unions and to discuss working conditions with each other."

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hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239161)

no kidding? who'da thunk?

why is this an issue to begin with?

Re:hey! (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239235)

Pick your poison:

Favoritism
Nepotisim
Sexism
Racisim
Religious persecution
Etc.

Employers don't want you to discuss with your co-workers what your pay and benefits packages are, because they offer sweet deals to people they like, and that favoritism is not always above board.

If other employees knew that billybob the janitor was getting paid three times what they were, they would demand to know why, ad worse, demand better pay. Usually billybob gets that sweet reimbursement for his labor because of some dirty secret, like he's the boss's lover, brother, illegitimate son, whatever. All of which are clearly outright illegal.

Keeping people ignorant let's you get away with abuses of power. That's why they penalise people who share their information.

Re:hey! (4, Funny)

Tanman (90298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239429)

Either that, or Billybob just puts up with a lot more shit than anyone else.

*cymbal crash*

Re:hey! (4, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239505)

You're kidding, right?

It's mostly about negotiating, and keeping the peace.

The more someone knows what others are being paid, the more he knows about what the employer is truly willing to pay someone for that work. In salary negotiations, information is power. So employers try to scare employees away from gathering that kind of info.

Also, when people know each other's salaries, it tends to make people discontent, when they'd previously been happy. Everyone wants to make more than everyone else. When people don't know each other's salaries, they're generally happy if they think they're making market rate. Want a recipe for a nasty workplace? Negotiate different salaries for each employee, and then let them all know who's making what.

Re:hey! (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239547)

That would be the [favoritism] poison, would it not?

Sally gets paid more than Alice, because?

Why wouldn't Alice be miffed about that?

Solution that doesn't open the door to nasty nepotism and favoritism?

Hard set pay grades, openly state where the figures come from, let people walk if they demand more pay.

Not everyone is a throat slitting MFer. As an employer who wants quality employees, employees that want to bleed me dry because they feel special, but really aren't, are not a commodity I want to keep anyway. (I am not actually an employer, but that's how I view the situation.)

Re:hey! (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239569)

As an employer who wants quality employees, employees that want to bleed me dry because they feel special, but really aren't, are not a commodity I want to keep anyway. (I am not actually an employer, but that's how I view the situation.)

With all due respect, I imagine you will/would have a different perspective on the issue if/when you are an employer.

Re:hey! (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239615)

Probably.

Business is a cuthroat enterprise. As such, there is a clear, and present advantage to shafting employees and keeping them ignorant with information control. If you can pay your people peanuts and get away with it, why on earth would you ever want them to know that they are getting shafted? Profit man! Profit! Its why you started the business!

The difference is that I am not a bloodthirsty, elitist bastard MFer that wants a free lunch, and more shockingly, I don't feel I am entitled to one, and feel I should be paid according to a fair and equitable standard.

This is because I am a fair and equitable person.

As pointed out in the grandparent, the real reason for these information control polices is exactly antithetical to that viewpoint. Claiming it results in a more harmonious workplace when people don't know about the bullshit is a no brainer. Nobody wants to put up with bullshit.

The problem is that the bullshit is so endemic, that its business as usual, and people are perfecty happy to cause the bullshit, as long as they are the beneficiary. That's basically your argument.

Mine is that the bullshit shouldn't be tolerated period, because it causes so many headaches.

Re:hey! (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239681)

I think the fundamental issue you'll run into, when trying to apply the ethical standard you describe, is determining what a "fair" market price is for someone's labor.

I don't think you'll find a single, undeniably superior way of reckoning what it should be.

Re:hey! (4, Insightful)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239889)

I think the fundamental issue you'll run into, when trying to apply the ethical standard you describe, is determining what a "fair" market price is for someone's labor.

I don't think you'll find a single, undeniably superior way of reckoning what it should be.

I accept your challenge. Determining fair market price when all buyers and sellers have information on all current transactions is undeniable more accurate and predictable than determining fair market price when the price of all transactions is a carefully guarded secret.

Re:hey! (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239983)

Quite right.

Here's how I would try though:

I would evaluate the value of my company's product or service in the market at large. This is the starting point. How much is that service actually worth, as determined by the market. Don't cook this number because you think you are awesome. Use the domestic figure.

Now, subtract 10% from that value. Always make your projections conservative, because "shit fucking happens." Better to constantly report a windfall, than to appear to suffer economic adversity.

Itemize the costs to provide that service. This includes the costs your employees have in order to reach your requirements for hire. (Education costs, etc.) Completely ignore what industry pay rates are at this point. We are determining equity, not the status quo.

State a corporate growth goal. How much profit do you need to make to reach that goal? Write this number down. This number should be sensible, not some absurd value like 100%. 5 to 10% is "high". Be conservative. Aim to break this goal with voracious abandon if possible, but don't set impossible goals.

Using the numbers you now have, honestly evaluate how many people you will need to reach the necessary output required to meet your growth target, and of what types and disciplines. Employees of different disciplines have different intrinsic costs for them to be hirable. Adjust their basic equity pay accordingly. You should give each employee around 1000 to 2000 dollars a month free spending money in your projection. Include food and fuel costs, education costs, and the costs of 2.5 children and a spouse. A lawyer needs to be paid more, because they spend more time in the university than an accountant. After the bills are added up, they should be treated the same in terms of their disposable income.

(The hard part) set your pay scale to the same value system.

*NOW* compare your equitable rates against industry standard rates.

Prioritize the actual value in your company each type of employee actually has. How many janitors does it really take to keep the premesis clean? Etc. Where there is a disproportionately high industry standard wage compared to actual employment costs, seek to eliminate positions in the labor pool so that reaching industry pay rate parity does not extensively increase your projected labor budget. This means cutting management positions. Strictly evaluate just how many meetings people really need to attend, how many bosses production staff actually require to work efficiently, and then use this as gospel. Allow the 10% cut on projected value of service make up the slack that can't be ironed out. (But always check your numbers!)

In cases where your projected equitable pay greatly exceeds industry standard pay, leave it high. Dont shaft your employees.

Take all this nice information you collected and digested, and turn it into a nice, bright little flier. When people drop an application, give them a copy of it, and discuss its contents, and why you adhere to it like gospel. Let them know that every 10 years, you hold an audit of the payscale, and adjust it honestly and with integrity. If the position they are applying for will get paid way more than industry standard, make sure they understand exactly why you are paying them more. If the position they are applying for is clearly overpaid in terms of standard compensation by this metric, let them know exactly why you are exceptionally picky about who you will hire, and that the limits on management salaries are fixed. Openly share your own salary to drive the point home. No exceptions. If they don't want the job, don't hire them.

The CEO's and board's pay are given additional constraints, such that their rate of statistical overpayment shall never exceed 100% of the standard takehome value. If this means legal gets paid more, too fucking bad.

This information would be available publicly, along with the quarterly finance reports. This includes the conclusions about statistical over and underpayments against industry standard pay rates.

Employees that are exceptional are not paid more, nor are they given added benefits. Instead, their names get pushed to the bottom of layoff pools, while less profitable ones are pushed to the top. This should be a publicly known official practice. Be prepaired to back it up.

The whole point of equity is in NOT capitulating to people who feel they are special. Either they deserve the pay, or they don't. They should be paid what they need to live comfortably, but not luxiouriously, if at all possible.

Re:hey! (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240005)

Business is a cuthroat enterprise. As such, there is a clear, and present advantage to shafting employees and keeping them ignorant with information control. If you can pay your people peanuts and get away with it, why on earth would you ever want them to know that they are getting shafted? Profit man! Profit! Its why you started the business!

Maybe you started the business because you wanted a good job and couldn't find anyone hiring?

There are people who don't believe a transaction is successful for them unless it hurts the other party. These people are never trying to establish long-term business relationships based on mutual success or respect. While some of these people may stay in business, I imagine they live their lives full of anger and high blood pressure. Meanwhile, I don't think they're actually doing any better than nice people, because the subset of customers that learn they are assholes will never buy from them again, the subset of suppliers that won't tolerate being treated like shit will walk from the account, and the subset of good employers that won't work in that environment quit. With lower volume, fewer bidders, and self-fullfilling-prophecy-good-for-nothing employees, the cycle continues.

Re:hey! (3, Insightful)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239677)

I'm a hiring manager with direct reports, and I want quality employees, and am willing to compensate them. HR, though, makes most compensation decisions, however.

Would I be subject to compensating someone higher than another due to favoritism? Hell, yes! What's important is what that favoritism is based upon, though. I don't believe in accepting (e.g.) sexual favors, but if you're a good contributor who makes my life easier, you're likely to be my favorite, and I'm likely to want to pay you more.

As much as we despise HR, their control over salaries helps mitigate a lot of favoritism issues.

Re:hey! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239741)

My mom was running a successful business for 15 years with about 25 employees where everyone knew each other's salary. Didn't cause any troubles. But then people doing the same job were paid the same, too (performance bonuses were separate from that). And people did just fine recognizing that some jobs pay more than others.

Granted, that was not in US.

Re:hey! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239877)

I am a manager and I agree with that. The valuable employees are not the ones who grouse about their pay or even worry much about it... because they're getting paid well. If I'm not happy with your work, you won't get a raise from me. Instead I'll be telling you what you need to fix to come up to snuff. But all my employees also get complimented when they do things right and rewards when they do them better than par.

Another possibility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239913)

Maybe Sally makes more becasue she isn't the lazy, entitlied, childish pain-in-the-ass that Alice is.

Why is it that people are always sure their misfortune is someone else's fault?

Re:hey! (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239923)

My wife just negotiated working from home prior to being hired full-time at a very conservative (read old) company. She'd been a contractor with them for the past year, and worked from home then, but they don't let any full-time employees work from home. Except her, so far as we know. Why? It was really important to her and she was willing to walk if she didn't get it, and they knew she could have a new job in less than a day in this market for her position.

Is that favoritism? I really doubt they favor her more than their existing employees. It's just what mattered to her. She didn't push on the salary or the hours or the responsibilities, either, just the work location.

The agreement between employer and employee is a free-market deal, just the same as between the company and customer. I think employers that share your attitude that employees should accept what crumbs you give them (a.k.a. "bleed me dry" from the opposite perspective) find themselves out of business shortly, or using a revolving cast of unskilled workers that can never do the job right for their pay.

Re:hey! (0)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240029)

there is no free market without information, capitalists want to restrict information because a free market would make them take an extra year or two before getting that yact. or have to drive last year;s model of BMW

Re:hey! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240185)

The thing is though, each individual employee is different and each employee should really be paid according to their individual actions. It doesn't make sense to pay all people who's title is X, $Y if their abilities and talents differ. Some people are much more skilled and can get a lot more work done, or much higher quality of work done in an hour so of course they should be paid higher than those who do less, even if the job description is the same.

Its completely stupid to base pay on things such as experience and degrees rather than who actually gets the stuff done. As an employer I'd much rather pay $15 an hour to someone who provides me with $25 an hour of revenue who might not have that degree or that much experience rather than pay $20 an hour to someone who only makes me $23 an hour of revenue with a masters degree and 15 years of experience. Of course I'm going to keep that same employee because they are still making me money, but I'd much rather reward the first employee with higher pay because he's giving me much more benefit than the second employee.

Re:hey! (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239863)

Also, when people know each other's salaries, it tends to make people discontent, when they'd previously been happy. Everyone wants to make more than everyone else. When people don't know each other's salaries, they're generally happy if they think they're making market rate. Want a recipe for a nasty workplace? Negotiate different salaries for each employee, and then let them all know who's making what.

If the employees are paid differently, there need to be visible reasons why, like qualifications, recognized quality of work, higher productivity, etc. When pay is perceived as FAIR, it doesn't cause resentment and in fact reinforces the motivations that you want in your employees. You want to be paid like Molly? Then turn out quality and quantity of work that match what Molly does.

Re:hey! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239869)

I work for the Canadian Forces. I know what all my co-workers earn. Of course, that employer treats us like adults. Pay shouild be public knowledge.

Re:hey! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239787)

If other employees knew that billybob the janitor was getting paid three times what they were, they would demand to know why, ad worse, demand better pay. Usually billybob gets that sweet reimbursement for his labor because of some dirty secret, like he's the boss's lover, brother, illegitimate son, whatever. All of which are clearly outright illegal.

The brother and the illegitimate son are not in any way illegal. You can employ family members and pay them whatever you deem appropriate, at least in privately held businesses. The lover is questionable. The lover thing is a (dark) gray area because it can create a discriminatory working environment and *that* is illegal.

Keeping people ignorant let's you get away with abuses of power. That's why they penalise people who share their information.

That at least is true, if you replace "let's" with "lets."

Re:hey! (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239813)

Generally the bad employees will bitch and demand "equal pay" for "equal work", when they don't actually provide equal work. In 2 of my last companies I knew exactly how much everyone made, and if some people found out I can guarantee you there would be some very unhappy employees even though they were getting paid much more they were worth.

I've also seen cases where a husband and wife were working at the same company and they were fairly close in pay, even though one of them wasn't in a position that should be making what they were and higher than their coworkers. Obviously this was because the company assumed the husband/wife knew what they were both making and it was their best interest to keep them fairly close in pay.

I also don't want my coworkers knowing what I make because they will likely try demanding more than they are making when they don't deserve it. They aren't nearly as good and no matter what is said or done, they will just become upset. In one company I was making more than both my direct boss (CIO), and his boss (COO/CEO) because I was in the very upper end (maybe a bit above) of what the market would pay, while my coworkers were mainly junior but some of them thought they were better than they were, but when the shit hit the fan, they would always come to me to help them with the difficult stuff.

Reminds me of a psychological study that was done that basically said, those were below average in skill almost always overestimated their skills greatly, and as actual skill increases, the less overestimated their self evaluation was to the point where the most skilled quite often actually underestimated their skills. That's the problem with everyone knowing what everyone else makes. People have an incorrect valuation of their own skills and contribution the vast majority of the time.

Re:hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239959)

"Usually billybob gets that sweet reimbursement for his labor because of some dirty secret, like he's the boss's lover, brother, illegitimate son, whatever. All of which are clearly outright illegal."

This is how crazy left-wingers actually are.

Re:hey! (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240245)

...he's the boss's lover, brother, illegitimate son...

billybob? He's probably all three

Did anyone RTFA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240297)

The restrictions companies wanted actually seem reasonable. I quote

"A policy prohibiting employees from releasing "confidential guest, team member and company information" on social media was overly broad because it could be interpreted to mean that employees can't discuss the employment conditions of coworkers, he wrote. A prohibition on discussing confidential information in public was illegal for the same reason, he wrote."

It actually seems pretty reasonable that companies might want to restrict employees from releasing confidential company information. Likewise a policy to not post pictures of the company logo, because it "might" be used to prevent pictures of picketers. It is totally reasonable that a company not want you to post their logo to prevent an employee from taking the air of having official company endorsement.

It actually seems that the NRLB is the one being overly broad in their interpretation. A more reasonable approach would be simply to say something like "Companies have the right to restrict release of confidential company information or restrict the use of company names and logos so far as that restriction is not used to limit employees from communicating working conditions, compensation, or other labor related issues." or something like that.

I also recall an article where an employee was essentially defaming his employer in public (rather nastily) and hiding behind these type of provisions.

Re:hey! (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239591)

why is this an issue to begin with?

Because your employer doesn't want you talking to your co-workers outside of their control, because that could lead to workers organizing, which we all know is worse, circa 2012, than genocide or child-rape.

But rest assured, Mitt Romney, (aka Ronald II) has promised to do away with the National Labor Relations Board (seriously), because in a free market such things just aren't necessary because everyone knows that once you just free private industry from the constraints of onerous federal regulations against things like, say, killing your workers, employers will start treating their employees really really well. Just as it happened back in the 1880s, the golden age of employer-employee relations.

Oh, and tax cuts for them that deserve them. Because the rich will work harder if they are given more, but the rest of you will work harder if you are given less.

If only we'd known that getting rid of the EPA, the Department of Education, the National Labor Relations Board and NPR would lead to utopia, we'd have done it long ago. Oh, and Planned Parenthood, because women have to stop being such sluts.

Re:hey! (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239661)

posting to undo wrong moderation.

Re:hey! (1)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239679)

anymore talking points to add?

Re:hey! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239853)

anymore talking points to add?

Did you find one thing I wrote that was not true? If so, I beg your correction.

Re:hey! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239757)

Just as it happened back in the 1880s, the golden age of employer-employee relations.

Watch out - with statements like that, you're virtually guaranteed to summon roman_mir to this thread.

HOSTS FILES ARE GHEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240103)

Is roman_mir that idiot who talks about HOSTS FILES? It's so stupid. HOSTS FILES ARE NOT BETTER THAN AN AD BLOCKER AND ARE A WASTE OF TIME. Only a stupid cunt would use a HOSTS FILE.

Re:HOSTS FILES ARE GHEY (1)

iamnobody2 (859379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240363)

everyone uses HOSTS files, everything running Windows, Mac, linux, iOS, and Android has a HOSTS file.

Re:hey! (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240455)

Mitt Romney, (aka Ronald II)

Reagan was willing to raise taxes, to work with Tip O'Neal to hammer out agreements and then stick to those agreements, and to use deficits to increase government hiring during an economic crisis. With a record like that, there's no way Reagan could have won the nomination for president in 2012. Although Reagan could have probably beaten that (by modern GOP standards) pinko Richard Nixon or that clearly socialist Dwight Eisenhower.

Mitt Romney is just yet another sleazebag politician out for more money and power. If he's for getting rid of the NLRB, it's not out of any ideology, but because he thinks his stock holdings will do better without the fear of workers doing silly things like wanting to be paid enough to eat.

Re:hey! (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240625)

Mitt Romney is just yet another sleazebag politician out for more money and power. If he's for getting rid of the NLRB, it's not out of any ideology, but because he thinks his stock holdings will do better

It must be a defect in my character or maybe my thinking, but I cannot wrap my mind around someone who is worth $250,000,000.00 worrying about boosting his stock holdings. I'm not sure I am equipped to understand such a person. I'm clearly not made of the same stuff. Maybe he is one of the Elect.

NO SUPPORT TO THE BOSSES' GOVERNMENT! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239185)

The NLRB (very) occasionally makes rulings that soundfavorable to the workers. But what actully happens is bosses harass, intimidate and fire workers with impunity anyway. We can only rely on our own collective strength: we produce all the wealth! Break with the Democrats and all capitalist parties! We need a workers party that fights for a workers government! Corn

lol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239209)

I make $60/hour lynching niggers.

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240579)

But I only make $40. Damn you! I used to like this job.

Ah hell, now what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239213)

If the employees learn that we're skewing the pay-scale, they might somehow demand equitable treatment.

This will ruin our ability to manipulate them into dividing against themselves!

--Signed, the Corporate Oligarchy.

PS: Maybe if put larger cookies on smaller plates in the breakroom, we'll get them thinking about their diets.

Good. (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239223)

But still, some things are a matter of good taste. Sure, you can do it on your own time, but I know I wouldn't want to know what my co-workers make. Not that I think I'm under paid or anything, but it's information that simply doesn't affect me. How is discussing it with anyone going to help me?

So you'll know your value in the marketplace. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239299)

How is discussing it with anyone going to help me?

If you are ever in a position to negotiate a raise for yourself then it will be useful.

Such as if you are interviewing for a new job.

Or during performance evaluations.

Re:So you'll know your value in the marketplace. (0)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239859)

And this is why it is usually company policy to NOT discuss your salary with co-workers. It will lead to NOTHING but problems - not only for the company, but other workers.

Why? Because people in general are jealous and selfish. When person X find out person Y makes 10K more / year then them, for "the same job", they will want that 10K more as well - even if they do not deserve it, either because they do not have the same level of experience or because they simply are not a good performer in their job.

But if you tell them that, and do not equalize the pay, then now you have ruined the team dynamic since one person is now jealous of the other.. and now you have upset the MORE qualified person as well - so you have a retention issue for both!

But if you DO equalize the pay, and the MORE qualified person finds out, then THEY will be offended - and it is the same problem all over again.

Re:So you'll know your value in the marketplace. (3, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240301)

I spent 7 years in the Army.
http://www.militaryfactory.com/military_pay_scale.asp [militaryfactory.com]
I knew how much each of my co-workers was making.
There wasn't a problem with that.

When person X find out person Y makes 10K more / year then them, for "the same job", they will want that 10K more as well - even if they do not deserve it, either because they do not have the same level of experience or because they simply are not a good performer in their job.

No. The problem happens when the less experienced person managed to sell himself as worth MORE than the more experienced person.

Companies need to focus more on what skills are needed at what levels and how to test those skills.

Why would you have a problem with someone at a higher grade making more than you if you know what skills you'll need to work on to get to that grade?

Re:Good. (0)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239427)

Let's say for a moment that your boss is a letcherous toad.

As a typical slashdotter, I make the following presumptions:

You are male
Aged 25 to 35
Somewhat akward
Possibly a little heavy
Actually proficient at your IT job

Now, let's say some pretty 20something scrumpet with the IQ of a raddish, but with totally knockout boobs, great hair, perfect teeth, and good taste in perfume walks in the door fresh out of college, looking for a database programming job. You get assigned to test her proficiency. She bombs. Horribly. Doesn't even know what a tuple is.

She gets hired anyway.

You bite your lip, and do your job. She fucks shit up way more than she helps, is snarky, makes fun of your hair, is a total cunt, but lays on the coochie mama act around your boss, and he eats it like fudge.

Wouldn't you want to know how much more than you her parasitical leech ass makes?

Re:Good. (0)

GoChickenFat (743372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239639)

What would be the point...piss you off even more? If the environment is that bad then you already know what to do - leave.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239849)

Until such said airhead actually finds out what you make, and then demands the same pay as you make, and your boss has to comply otherwise he'll get in a lawsuit for discrimination regardless of whether she's any good or not.

Re:Good. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239439)

If you learn Joe is making $20/hour more than you, it might be time to ask for a raise, or start looking for a new job of equal pay.

Oh, Thanks! (3, Funny)

Gryle (933382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239255)

So glad to have your permission to exercise my right to free speech on a social network NOT owned/controlled by my employer

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

agm (467017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239325)

It's in my contract not to reveal my rate to other employees or contractors. It doesn't bother me - what I earn is my business and what someone else earns is theirs.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (5, Informative)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239355)

It should bother you, as it's completely unethical (and hopefully illegal, but obviously that depends on laws where you live) to put such a stipulation in and reflects extremely poorly on the character of those in charge at your employer. If you choose not to share your wages/salary with anyone else, that is your prerogative. Your employer still has no right to demand that you not share that information.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (3, Informative)

agm (467017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239381)

It should bother you, as it's completely unethical (and hopefully illegal, but obviously that depends on laws where you live) to put such a stipulation in

There's nothing unethical about that at all. A contract is a two way agreement. They have to agree and so do I. So long as both parties agree, what's the issue?

and reflects extremely poorly on the character of those in charge at your employer. If you choose not to share your wages/salary with anyone else, that is your prerogative. Your employer still has no right to demand that you not share that information.

They are not my employer, they are my client. And they didn't demand, they negotiated.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (2)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239443)

There's nothing unethical about that at all. A contract is a two way agreement. They have to agree and so do I. So long as both parties agree, what's the issue?

The issue is that it is an attempt to control the flow of information so that they can treat people unfairly. The only reason you would ever need such a provision is if you were already or were planning to pay people below their value, and wanted to keep them from finding out. So at best, it's an unnecessary provision. More likely, it is there to enable unfair treatment and is unethical.

Furthermore, when one party has almost all the bargaining power (as is the case in most employment agreements), they can abuse it to make demands they couldn't otherwise get away with. While that may not be your case, most people certainly wouldn't agree to such a provision if they had a real choice in the matter. It not only does not benefit them, it indirectly hurts them by making it difficult for workers in the marketplace to get information about what the market value of their skills is.

And they didn't demand, they negotiated.

Regardless of the level of politeness they used, it is a perfectly reasonable use of the term to say they demanded that of you. You're splitting hairs.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239589)

Regardless of the level of politeness they used, it is a perfectly reasonable use of the term to say they demanded that of you. You're splitting hairs.

In the same way they demand that he work 40 hours a week, demand that he only take X days off a year and demand that he dress appropriately for the workplace and observe their policies?

It's not splitting hairs - it's a negotiated contract term, the same as any of the above that I listed. It's no different simply because some find it objectionable.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239631)

Uh, yeah. Actually, I would call all those things demands too. Again, this is not some unreasonable or unprecedented use of the term.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239683)

That makes more sense to me. The way it was originally phrased gave the impression you were singling out this one requirement for the name 'demand'.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (2)

agm (467017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240367)

There's nothing unethical about that at all. A contract is a two way agreement. They have to agree and so do I. So long as both parties agree, what's the issue?

The issue is that it is an attempt to control the flow of information so that they can treat people unfairly. The only reason you would ever need such a provision is if you were already or were planning to pay people below their value, and wanted to keep them from finding out.

Or you were wanting to pay someone above their value.

Just because one person is paid more than another doesn't mean anyone is being paid below their value. In the interests of harmony it's sometimes best for those being paid less not to find out what those being paid more are paid.

If those being paid less are not happy with their pay, then they should say something about it. At the end of the day what matters is whether you're happy with what you're getting and whether you came to a mutual agreement with your employer or client. If someone else came to a different agreement then good for them.

So at best, it's an unnecessary provision. More likely, it is there to enable unfair treatment and is unethical.

Furthermore, when one party has almost all the bargaining power (as is the case in most employment agreements), they can abuse it to make demands they couldn't otherwise get away with.

It's not always the employer or client that has all of the bargaining power. Senior technical people who hold a lot of knowledge about processes and systems that keep the business running have a lot of bargaining power. Especially when those employees/contractors are being head hunted by other companies.

While that may not be your case, most people certainly wouldn't agree to such a provision if they had a real choice in the matter. It not only does not benefit them, it indirectly hurts them by making it difficult for workers in the marketplace to get information about what the market value of their skills is.

And they didn't demand, they negotiated.

Regardless of the level of politeness they used, it is a perfectly reasonable use of the term to say they demanded that of you. You're splitting hairs.

No I'm not. "Hey, we'll give you a $30 an hour pay rise but we'd rather you didn't tell anyone. Do you agree?". And you're saying the correct answer is "no"? Really?

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239451)

To negotiate you need to know what other vendors of you client (and employees of the client) are making. It is always in your favor to be able to have an open discussion about these, without worrying about what you are legally allowed to discuss about. The same applies to employees the TFA talks about, it is good to be allowed to talk about your pay to some coworker you trust. The more you know, the more leverage you have.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239971)

Exactly. If you talk to the other contractors, you may find out that they're paying you way less than another contractor and then you know that you can renegotiate when the contract expires and likely get a better rate.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

agm (467017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240415)

To negotiate you need to know what other vendors of you client (and employees of the client) are making.

What you need to know if what you personally are willing to work for. That's what matters ina negotiation. If you get something you are happy with then there is no issue, regardless of how little or how much someone else gets.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

Klinky (636952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240503)

This must be why companies just randomly price their goods and never do market research to find out what price would net them the most profit.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (5, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239465)

Private contracts can not overrule the consumer or employee-protection laws. So ruled a judge when he threw-out most of Paypal's user contract (which claimed they had the right to freeze access to your money for six months and, at their sole discretion, close your account & keep the cash).

Just because you sign a contract does not mean you sign-away your rights as protected by law. It sounds like your Employment contract violates the law which allows employees freedom to talk to one another about work conditions/pay.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239567)

>They are not my employer, they are my client.

Ah! The labor laws are really hard for NRLB to apply when you are your own boss I'd imagine; do they even apply?

Re:Oh, Thanks! (4, Insightful)

VAElynx (2001046) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240079)

There's nothing unethical about that at all. A contract is a two way agreement. They have to agree and so do I. So long as both parties agree, what's the issue?

The issue , and reason it's unethical is that there's an uneven balance of power. Hardly any employer has gone bankrupt due to employees leaving as a result of poor treatment (rather than them fucking up and running out of money), while people that don't put up with bullshit are running a solid risk of ending in the streets.
The employee is replaceable , and hence, can't really set the conditions, unless he's in a highly skilled, and rare position of expertise.
Which is why unions are such an awesome thing - they allow the employees to actually form a credible threat to whoever's screwing them over.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240527)

Yeah, and I bet they are really big on the free market, which demands perfect knowledge. Which in turn demands everyone knows what everything costs all the time, including the cost of labour and services. Those arseholes always want to have it both ways.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239809)

I have no idea in what industry you work in or kind of employment you have, but I can tell you that in professional industries (IT, software development, hardware, engineering, consulting, medical, science, business), it is HIGHLY TABOO to disclose your salary to other employees, let alone ask them what their salary was. The only exception to this is a union-type environment where everyone knows everyone else's salary de-facto. But if you aren't in a union, the #1 rule in fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (3, Interesting)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240105)

Of course it is. That's hundreds of years of cultural integration of employers demanding to have salary negotiations kept secret. It's always in the worker's interest for these negotiation to be public and always in the employer's interest to have them secret. So, your statement boils down to "It's always been like this". That's not new information. What is new is that a labor board has now stated that it's your right to discuss this information and it's illegal to prevent this discussion.

This is a step forward in a better direction than labor unions. The problem I've always had with Unions is that you need to sign on with a slightly less abusive group to protect you from a more abusive group, you don't get to go your own way. Requiring open discussions of labor conditions is a step closer to a transparent labor market and more fair wages.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240257)

I work in IT. I have no problem disclosing my salary to someone else, and the only reason I wouldn't ask someone else is because they might prefer that information be private. But in general, there's no reason to avoid discussing compensation from the employee's perspective. It is a culture employers encourage because it gives them a massive advantage, but there's not actually anything wrong or impolite about it.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240487)

I work for an engineering / science firm that does a lot of small contracts with billable hours. Most of the technical employees manage a contract or two. We need to know hourly salaries at proposal time to bid hours and determine budgets, and if anyone charges to the contract (peers, management, etc.) the person managing the contract can determine the salary.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (0)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239387)

No it isn't, but congratulations on not only drinking the Kool-Aid, but preaching it. What people in my industry make is quite literally my business.

Re:Oh, Thanks! (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239613)

It seems we increasingly do need to get that permission, to prevent employers from penalizing or firing us for exercising what ought to be obvious freedoms.

What's unlawful (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239267)

The employer can not include in their policy:

"Don't release confidential guest, team member, or company information on social media...."

"Offensive, demeaning, abusive, or inappropriate remarks are as out of place online as they are offline."

"Think carefully about friending coworkers online."

"Employees should report any unusual or inappropriate internet social media activity."

And on and on.

Re:What's unlawful (1)

adversus (1451933) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239415)

"Don't release confidential guest, team member, or company information on social media...."

So you are saying that I can post confidential company information online, including trade secrets, and as long as it's on Facebook I'm covered? Sweet!

Re:What's unlawful (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239511)

No I am not saying it. Lafe Solomon an attorney working for the National Labor Relations Board is saying it. Read the PDF embedded in the original article:
http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4580a375cd [nlrb.gov]

Re:What's unlawful (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239617)

No I am not saying it. Lafe Solomon an attorney working for the National Labor Relations Board is saying it. Read the PDF embedded in the original article:
http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4580a375cd [nlrb.gov]

ACtually I did read it; and an important point is the *reason* he's saying it's unlawful. He is not saying employers may not restrict the kinds of information that employees publish; only that they must be specific.

"Rules that are ambiguous as to their application to Section 7 activity, and contain no limiting language or context that would clarify to employees that the rule does not restrict Section 7 rights, are unlawful"

And in this case, it all hung on the rather loosely defined term "confidential information". He found that because of the lack of definition, that term could be considered to include conditions of employment.

Had they been more specific in excluding trade secrets, that would have been permissible.

Re:What's unlawful (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239751)

The company I work for actually classifies data in that some data is labeled "confidential." The word "confidential" is not necessarily ambiguous, but rather refers to all company information labeled "confidential." Most companies that have policies regarding confidential data quite explicitly define it.

Re:What's unlawful (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239915)

Considering that the NLRB does not currently have a legal quorum, does this ruling even matter?

Pot, meet kettle (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239365)

One of the messages of the latest NLRB memo is to avoid ambiguous language in social media policies and spell out situations to avoid, said Mayer Brown's Goodman...The NLRB seems to be on a "journey" to address social media in the workplace, Goodman said. The three memos, which don't lay out specific rules, may be confusing to many companies, she added.

NLRB kinda sorta said what companies might should do; e.g. Don't be ambiguous. but they didn't exactly say how. Good work guys.

Re:Pot, meet kettle (2)

braeldiil (1349569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239765)

Actually, the NLRB was very specific. The entire point of the meme was to inform companies that their overly broad scial media policies would make a reasonable person believe they could not discuss their salary or working conditions. That's specifically against the law - a law he repeatedly sites in the memo. The easy way around the issue is to include repeated disclaimers that no part of this policy will in any way restrict the employee's rights to discuss their salary or work conditions. But they don't want to point out those rights, for fear their employees would use them. So they whine that the NLRB didn't give them a template for exactly how far they can push the rule and obscure their employee's legal rights.

Re:Pot, meet kettle (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240071)

NLRB kinda sorta said what companies might should do; e.g. Don't be ambiguous. but they didn't exactly say how. Good work guys.

Sometimes you need to use a LITTLE imagination. They said that it was unlawful because it didn't except the Section 7 rights. If they had given a definition of "confidential information" that excepted Section 7 rights, that would have been fine. Even better would be to prominently display the workers' rights under Section 7 at the beginning of the policy manual AND specifically except it from the definition of "confidential information."

Compensation Confidentiality (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239397)

Barring employees from disclosing their pay to anyone is illegal in many states (Michigan I am sure of).

Re:Compensation Confidentiality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239453)

Then why am I buttnude right now? Why would I ever be buttnude if what you're saying has any degree of truth to it!?

You can simply turn to dust, die, and then get your bootysnap turned into an elevator easy!

Does this even matter in "at will" states? (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239457)

I mean, it's my understanding that an employer can terminate an employee for almost any reason imaginable, or no reason at all... and if none is given, wouldn't the onus fall on the employee to prove that the actual reason was one that is illegal?

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239665)

"I mean, it's my understanding that an employer can terminate an employee for almost any reason imaginable, or no reason at all... and if none is given, wouldn't the onus fall on the employee to prove that the actual reason was one that is illegal?"

Yes. True. And it's hard to prove. But if they don't disclose the reason, then you get your unemployment benefits. If they disclose the reason and it's not that you committed an actual crime, then you get your benefits. If they disclose the reason and it's on the list of prohibited reasons (even in at at-will state there are reasons that they are not allowed to use to terminate employees) then you clean their clock, most likely without going to court once the company attorney reads the complaint. Been there, done that, paid off the mortgage early. Then got a job with other grownups.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240087)

Except in my state, where there is now a "simple misconduct" reason for termination, where you can be denied benefits for "violating a company rule", where in the case of my company, simply make up rules to fire people.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239667)

Yes, that's generally the case. On an "at will" contract, you can be terminated for any reason that isn't explictily illegal. If the employer believes they were fired for an illegal reason, they have to make the case. The assumption is that terminations are for legal reasons absent evidenct to the contrary.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239921)

That's my point... so I don't get why the US bothers to try to make laws like this that are only certain to be found inconvenient by some employers... when those same employers can just fire the employees anyways, and not give any reason for dismissal.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240411)

so I don't get why

Employers are routines sued for large settlements when they fire people. The basis for these cases are legion, but some of the common claims include racism, sexism and homophobia. Anytime you fire someone that isn't a white, healthy, heterosexual male you stand a good chance of getting sued.

The labor department is simply expanding the basis for future claims. Some number of hapless employers will, on becoming annoyed with someone's Facebook stuff, fire people. The labor department, on behalf of certain interest groups [opensecrets.org] , is making it clear that this is legitimate grounds to sue for millions.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239931)

"At will" is a complete fucking scam. It's a license to fire for reasons that are completely unfair and effectively a license to engage in illegal discrimination.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240409)

It's not a scam. Employees can quit for any (or no) reason. Employers need to be able to terminate for the same reason (or lack thereof).

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240311)

In the majority of firing cases I have observed, the "real" reason and the "official" reason where entirely different beasts. Most employers know how to cover thine ass, and list a reason that will stand up in court. Almost everyone breaks something in that handbook.

Re:Does this even matter in "at will" states? (1)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240617)

While it's true that the employer is not required to give a reason there always is one. Because i wanted to, is a reason. Now if the employee files suit and their lawyer asks why they were fired, no judge in the world will accept "no reason" as an answer. There is always a reason.

Also note just because a firing isn't illegal doesn't mean it's not actionable.

I can see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239491)

by most of the comments that attempts to dumb down the American worker are working.

Divided we stand = not.

This message brought to you by the not 1%.

Cant stop you (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239575)

But if they find out they can make your work life rough on you.

Re:Cant stop you (1)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239685)

"But if they find out they can make your work life rough on you."

Yes indeed. But that is documentable, and quickly crosses the line to harassment. Which is actionable.
Written records are your friends.

Re:Cant stop you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240213)

It's a lot harder for them to make your work life rough if you work with your fellow employees. Speaking with many voices carries a lot more weight, particularly in industries where skills walking out the door en mass would have in impact. It's even more powerful if all your coworkers help each other through some sort of organization formed to watch out for your mutual interests... ...now what would we call something like that, I wonder....

Re:Cant stop you (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40240541)

A closed Wal-Mart store?

but are you/they honest about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239585)

Are people showing tax forms and paychecks to each other? If not, how can anybody tell if modesty or bragging happens? There are lots of reasons to lie. Got a co-worker you hate? You could get him negotiating, quitting, or even starting a lawsuit based on bad info.

Let's see a show of hands, shall we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239703)

Who was there to see this, hmm?

Hands in the air... come on. Anyone? Anyone?

No? Hmmm... then I suppose it's really just speculation... a best guess based entirely on how we interpret the data that we have available.

They say those who don't learn from history will repeat it, but we're talking about *PRE* history here... I don't think there's much chance of that. So, what difference does it make?

It's a little off topic but... (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239733)

I mean, if you wanna get people riled up. Don't make fun of their religion. Don't make fun of their kids. Don't rape their mother. No, we can deal with these things. But talk about his/her money? Shit!

The problem is simple... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239789)

A corporation exists to make money, specifically profit. It wants to control all things that impact that result. Controlling information about employees, from employees, gives them an edge in the making of profit. Some of the thing a corporation might want to do, or assumes it can do to or with employees, is in fact illegal and they can't actually do those things. However, most large corporations also know that they can induce their employees to tow their corporate line with sanctions that while are perhaps illegal, would be either difficult to prosecute, or nearly impossible to prove. This leaves most employees in the situation that they can either put up with the "problem" or they can seek legal remedy, knowing full well they may lose, or simply be waited out until their funds run out.

This isn't to say that people haven't won substantial settlements from large corporations, it is to say pick your battles carefully, you have a lot at stake and the deck has been stacked against you.

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