Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

OPINION: You have the right to talk wages, the government says so

Julia Thomas
Jacinda Hall says that people should talk about their wages in the workplace to encourage fair compensation and healthy discussion.

When you start working at just about any job, you’ll get the typical spiel about wages and how there should be zero talk about it whatsoever.

I’m here to tell you that it’s illegal for your bosses to tell you that, as it goes against the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers set up these restrictions to keep you from talking about what they’re actually doing: paying employees unfairly.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, half of all workers in the U.S. have reported that the discussion of pay “is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment.”  

 Whether you are represented by a union or not, you have the right to report these prohibitions since most private-sector employees are covered under the NLRA. 

Before my time as a student journalist with The Sunflower, I had my fair share of working at a summer camp for two years. At the camp, I had a superior tell me that I was not supposed to talk about wages with my coworkers. 

Talking about your wages at work promotes pay transparency and holds employers accountable. If no one talked about pay, the pay gap between men and women would still be unknown.

The issue becomes even more important when discussing underrepresented groups; Black women make an average of 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes, according to CNBC.

 I experienced this situation during the second year I worked for the summer camp I mentioned previously. 

After a conversation with my coworkers, I checked my pay stubs and found out that for the two months, I was working at the summer camp, I was getting $9 an hour, which was a dollar less than what second-year coaches were meant to be paid.

I brought this issue to the employers that ran the summer camp and was told that I got “lost in the system,” which I later found to be untrue.

Thankfully my employer backdated my pay, but it took conversation and questions to get to that point.

I had prior knowledge about this issue thanks to the show Adam Ruins Everything. More specifically, his episode is about work and pay transparency

While the show is meant to be educational in a humorous way, it has helped me in my daily life. I most likely wouldn’t have been able to handle the situation had I not watched the episode prior to this job. 

I hope the sources I have linked as well as my personal experiences help educate you and help you if you happen to come across a situation similar to what I experienced in the past.

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About the Contributors
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Podcast Editor
Jacinda Hall is the podcast editor for The Sunflower. Hall is a junior majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in English literature. Her favorite quote is by Kurt Cobain: “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” In her free time, Hall likes to go to the gym, crochet and make fancy beverages. Hall's pronouns are she/her.
Julia Thomas, Former illustrator/designer
Julia Thomas was a designer and illustrator for The Sunflower.

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