Do workers have the right to know what others are paid?

I have an employee who opened my paystub to see how much I make. He told me he has every right to know and it is not illegal for him to do this. He said he can do it to every employee if he feels like it. Is this true? I am in Vermont.

Ann Kiernan replies:

No! Not in Vermont or anywhere else does an employee have the right to invade co-workers’ privacy like that. However, under federal labor law, as well as the laws of several states, workers do have the right to discuss their own pay with colleagues. So, your co-worker has the right to know information that others have chosen to share with him, but not to rip open other people’s pay envelopes or otherwise take that information without permission.

Posted 02-14-2017

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.