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Employees Are Free to Discuss Their Pay, Despite Stalled Paycheck Fairness Act

Released: 2-Apr-2014 1:20 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Despite being rejected twice by Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act was back on the Senate floor again yesterday. An often less-discussed clause in the proposed legislation would increase protections for employees who discuss their pay – already protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Two faculty experts from Cornell University’s ILR School say that the paycheck act will strengthen existing employee rights to talk about their earnings.

Esta R. Bigler, director of Labor and Employment Law Program at the ILR School:

“Despite repeated court rulings that support transparency in wages paid and that hit employer attempts to keep employees from talking about what they are paid, employers just don’t seem to get the message.

“Employers can’t legally limit employees talking about how much they are paid, and the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the existing protections provided by the National Labor Relations Act.”

Stephanie Thomas, researcher at Cornell’s Institute for Compensation Studies and lecturer at the ILR School:

“Employees are legally entitled to certain information about how they are paid, and to discuss that information with one another, but there is a lack of awareness among employers and employees that the Paycheck Fairness Act could help clarify.

“Transparency can also benefit employers by reducing employee perceptions of pay inequity, strengthening the linkages between pay and performance, and helping the organization attract and retain top talent.”

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