Employees' Wages: A Private Matter?

An article in Fast Company discusses whether companies should allow employees to see what other employees earn. The author cites an op-ed piece from the New York Times calling for federal regulations making employers disclose this information (no doubt because of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber). The article mentions that Whole Foods allows all current employees to look this information up on a computer in every store.

This raises a great point for California employers: what are California employers’ obligations to disclose payroll information?

California Labor Code section 232 provides that employers cannot require employees to refrain from “disclosing the amount of his or her wages.”  Employers are not required to disclose this information, but the labor code does prohibit an employer from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee who discloses his or her wages.  This is one of the few occasions I believe the current law in California reaches a good balance in giving the employees some control over this "private" information (they do not have to share their wage information with co-workers if they don't want to), but still allows employees who believe they are not being paid fairly, whatever the reason, to do some research of their own.
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