One little noticed provision in the proposed federal "Paycheck Fairness Act" would affect standard language in many confidentiality agreements and policies. Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is intended to fight discriminatory pay practices, contains a provision that bars an employer from taking adverse action against an employee who “has inquired about, discussed or disclosed the wages of the employee or another employee . . ."

Although there is an exception for employees who have “access to the wage information of other employees as a part of such employee's essential job functions" (e.g., managers who set compensation or HR employees), this provision would effectively bar employers from restricting most employees’ ability to discuss or disclose their own compensation or that of their co-workers.

Many employers have confidentiality agreements and/or confidentiality policies that expressly bar employees from discussing or revealing wage information. Although such provisions would not be rendered unlawful by the Paycheck Fairness Act, in most instances, they would be unenforceable.

Accordingly, if, as expected, the Paycheck Fairness Act becomes law (it was passed by the U.S. House in January 2009 and is currently pending in the Senate), employers may want to review provisions in confidentiality agreements and policies that expressly bar the disclosure of wage information.

Back to Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors


Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.