The manager even threatened the employees with termination if they were overheard discussing wages.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 4, 2022. It has since been updated.
Corporate life can be tough, especially with every company having its own set of rules and using these rules to make employees toe the line. One particular misunderstanding that keeps coming up is the notion that employers may just dismiss workers for discussing salaries with co-workers. Although it is the legal right of workers to discuss salaries with co-workers, it is often frowned on in workplaces by employers. According to Donna Ballman, an employee-side employment attorney, "Employers hate it when employees discuss salaries because it exposes discrimination and other unfair pay practices."
The best shot/chaser of all time pic.twitter.com/94cyqNXe0y— Read Class Struggle Unionism by Joe Burns (@JoshuaPotash) April 10, 2022
Employees of Kentucky Planet Fitness resisted their manager, Jer’s attempt to exercise control on discussing wages by hitting back on notice regarding the same. The Reddit account that posted these notices has since been suspended but it started a conversation about these unfair demands of workplaces, per God daily dot. The sign posted by the manager read, "Attention all subordinates. Effective immediately, conversing about wages (both on duty and off duty) is strictly forbidden.” Jer's sign continued by asserting that discussing pay is forbidden since they are "private information." He added that Kentucky is an at-will employment state and warned, “If you are overheard speaking (OR LISTENING TO!!) a conversation in which wages are discussed, you will receive disciplinary action up to and including termination."
Yep, forbidding discussion of compensation is extremely illegal, and it takes a real idiot of a boss to proactively go on the record and threaten to fire people for it.— Raving Horror (@GreatPortholio) April 11, 2022
Employees replied in the best way by simply posting their salary on the same notice board. A second sign said in response to the first, "Yo Jer-Bear. Seeing as you’re a manager in the great illustrious [world] of Planet Fitness gym franchises, it may behoove you to become familiar with the laws pertaining to it. Sprinkling legalese and word-salad across an 8.5×11 paper you printed does not a legal doc make.”
The response notice published the hourly wages of 12 employees while stating that it is illegal to restrict workers from talking about their pay, including some pertinent legal links. The notice was signed off by "$10.50 an hour Shelly," which people on Twitter comically posted saying, “Ah good, looks like Jer got to the 'finding out' part thanks to Shelly."
Posting a threat, titled "ATTENTION ALL SUBORDINATES"— Bizzle (@BizzleMcDizzle) April 11, 2022
is definitely the way most corporate trainings, leadership books, & speakers recommend as the best method for commanding respect and loyalty from the people you manage.
You are their superior, and they need to know it, right?
Another person commented on the demanding language used by Jer while addressing the workers. They wrote, "Me, the most beloved and effective manager in the history of Planet Fitness, upon arriving at work: 'Good morning subordinates!' " A Twitter user even went ahead to share their own experience while working at Planet Fitness. "I once worked at a 'planet fitness' and made an offhand joke about starting a union. The manager told me PF was non-union and as a result, I couldn't talk about it. I took out a pocket notebook and wrote the time date what was said and a witness. They never bothered me again," they wrote.
I love that Jer-Bear doesn’t seem to know the word ‘repercussion’, because it makes legal action sound cooler when you call it percussion. ‘This brief needs more cowbell!’— Eric Vaughn (@ericiswriting) April 10, 2022
Another user shared their own response when an employer asked them to not talk about their wages. "I said, 'That’s illegal.' He asked me to speak up, so I did. 'You can’t tell us not to discuss our wages with each other.' " The employee told them its company policy and they replied, "The company can’t have a policy of something that’s illegal to the whole country. Like, you can’t say ‘Feel free to murder 1 passerby on the street, it’s ok, company policy.’ "
According to National Labor Relations Board, employees are free to discuss their pay with co-workers at their place of employment under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or the Act). It is against the law for any employer to punish or take any other action against employees in retaliation for having a discussion about wages.