Discussing Your Pay Is Usually Taboo — TikTok Weighs In on Debate

The ongoing hush-hush attitude over openly sharing pay is being challenged. It's not illegal to discuss your pay. TikTok has weighed in on the topic.


Feb. 24 2023, Updated 11:51 a.m. ET

The ongoing hush-hush attitude over openly sharing pay has been challenged by the age of social media now that content creators have embraced speaking more freely about the subject.

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There's been a lot of debate about employers warning employees about bringing up work-related topics on social media, including transparency about compensation. Check out what this TikToker had to say about discussing your pay with coworkers.

Should you discuss your pay? TikToker explains

TikToker AndrewTheVirgo shares his experience of how wage discussions were discouraged during his time as a social worker. He begins the story by sharing that he was only offered $17 to $18 an hour, and when he asked if there was any room for advancement was told no. In the TikTok, Andrew describes several situations where higher-ups had requested he not ask about pay or mention it to coworkers. Despite being asked not to question the rate of pay of others, Andrew eventually asks his peers how much they're making.

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Once Andrew discovers he's earning less, he shares his former employer's excuse for why he was paid a lower rate. The exchange itself breaks the illusion made by employers and shatters misconceptions that it's illegal to discuss pay with others. Employees are given the right to speak freely about what their paychecks may look like, which is what Andrew did.

Understandably, other TikTokers were upset and shocked by Andrew's story. "$18 an hour? FOR SOCIAL WORK?!" one user comments, while another commented, "the way I gasped when you said they got $19." Others in the comment section reassured Andrew that it was illegal for the company to limit his speech on his earnings. This TikTok was left on a cliffhanger, and it was highly requested that the story be finished in another post.

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Can you be fired for talking about pay?

Per the National Labor Relations Board, "Employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplace about their wages." Also, "when using electronic communications, like social media, keep in mind that your employer may have policies against using their equipment. However, policies that specifically prohibit the discussion of wages are unlawful." As exhibited in Andrew's TikTok and elsewhere, it isn't illegal to discuss your pay. Ultimately, you cannot be fired for this.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was first established in 1935 and deemed it illegal to be fired for discussing wages at work. The NLRA furthered its stance on employee protection and claimed that no employee could be penalized for mentioning their pay. Former President Barack Obama signed the Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information order that would keep it unlawful for employees to be terminated for talking about salary.

The NRLA supports employee freedom when hosting conversations around pay at any given time, both in and out of work. It is ensured that there is no risk of being fired for bringing up these talking points, and while employer-issued electronics may have policies about how they are to be used, you cannot be stopped from posting about pay from personal devices. Federal contractors have henceforth been prohibited from discriminating against or discharging employees over this.

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