Did you know


#1

that you aren’t suppose to tell a coworker how much you make? I just got my first real job and learned this lesson the hard way. The coworker(whose a very nice person) quit and told the boss it was for this reason along with telling something else that coming from my boss seems completely taken out of complex. Now, I have to go to a meeting tomorrow with my boss and boss’ boss. Can I get fired? Should I try apologizing again or pretend nothing happened? Also, I got the advice that I should tell a “white lie” the next time someone asks how much I make to avoid hurt feelings…what do you think God would think about this? I really honestly didn’t know that I wasn’t suppose to share this information.

The meeting is completely unrelated to this incident. I’m just nervous about going.


#2

If you live in an “at will” employment state like California, you can be fired for (almost) any reason so yes, you could be fired for this. In practicality, though, I doubt you’d be fired unless telling people what you make is against some rule in their employee handbook or you were told not to do it.

If asked, don’t lie about it. Truthfully state that you didn’t think there was anything wrong with it and apologize for causing a problem. Stay out of trouble from now on so they’re not tempted to get rid of you for being a nuisance.


#3

Yes, this is strictly confidential information.

That depends upon whether or not it is actually a policy at your company that this type of offense could lead to termination. That’s not typical, but some companies are that serious about it.

It is likely your boss will want to make sure you understand the gravity of what you did and coach you on appropriate behavior for the future.

I don’t understand this question. Apologize to whom? Pretend with whom? Your boss already knows you did this and your coworker quit. Nothing to apologize for and no one to pretend with.

What you should say is that this is confidential information and you are not going to discuss salary.

Well, I am not sure why you thought this was OK. Salaries are a negotiation between the employee and the employer and that is individual to each person. Unless you are in an occupation where they publish salaries (government for example) then consider it as confidential. Always.

Let your boss lead the meeting. Learn from your mistakes.

Also, look at Barnes and Noble, etc, for a book on business ettiquette. A book like Sink Or Swim might help you navigate all the “unwritten rules” of a company.


#4

The pretend nothing happened part is for when I meet my boss' boss tomorrow.


#5

[quote="1ke, post:3, topic:182275"]
Yes, this is strictly confidential information.

[/quote]

Unless its in your contract that you cannot tell I don't see why its confidential. Your co-worker cannot pry into records and see how much you make, but if you say that's typically not wrong.

Well, I am not sure why you thought this was OK. Salaries are a negotiation between the employee and the employer and that is individual to each person. Unless you are in an occupation where they publish salaries (government for example) then consider it as confidential. Always.

Let your boss lead the meeting. Learn from your mistakes.

Also, look at Barnes and Noble, etc, for a book on business ettiquette. A book like Sink Or Swim might help you navigate all the "unwritten rules" of a company.

"confidential" salaries are kinda like sins in confession. YOU can tell your boss cannot, nor can another employee go find out on their own. Again unless you signed it in your contract. If your salary was "so" confidential that you couldn't report it to anyone it'd be illegal to fill out those little registration surveys that come with technology gadets these days...or many other polls for that matter.

It however, was very silly and in very bad manners to do so.

If it was an "unwritten rule" and not in a contract and you were not explicitly told not to say your wage then I doubt you will be fired. As far as your co-worker....what a foolish thing to do in this economy.


#6

[quote="Malia_Belen, post:4, topic:182275"]
The pretend nothing happened part is for when I meet my boss' boss tomorrow.

[/quote]

Oh, well, certainly. You should not bring anything up unless they directly ask you about it. Focus on the topic at hand, whatever the meeting is for.

If they do bring it up, simply tell them you aren't very experienced in business, you didn't know that salary had to be kept confidential, but now you do so you will not discuss salary again.


#7

In every company where I have worked (mom and pop, private, public and Fortune 500) - to disclose your salary to co worker is a firable offence.

This is confidential information, it is an agreement between you and your employer.

Read your HR employee manual tomorrow, apologize and learn this as a lesson.

If someone asks, answer "that is personal, confidential information".


#8

I am a state employee, so our salaries are public information that anyone, including the general public can look up. Even so, there are always hurt feelings about one person making more than another. Whether or not there is any rule, it's never a good idea to share your salary with other employees. It's also not a good idea to share it with most friends or family members.


#9

To be honest this is the first I’ve heard that salaries are an agreement/contract between employers/employee. In the other jobs I’ve had, salary was freely discussed but then again now that I think about we usually all got paid the same amount.


#10

I learned that when I went from working in a unionized job to going to work for a bank. One of the first things I was told was that I was not to tell my salary to anyone. This was very strange to me coming from a job where as long as I knew their level of experience I knew what everyone earned including my supervisors so I asked my boss what the scoop was. She pointed to a co-worker and said “She’s been here 6 years and you’ve started at a higher salary than she’s making.” That’s when I first understood why unions can be important.


#11

First of all, employers are trying to make it look like it's a substantive ethical rule not to disclose your salary. But that's instrumental. It serves their interest, not yours, and the interest is to be able to pay less to other people.

Pulling the trick off and paying more to the people who are more likely to fuss or who have a better perception of how much they should be making, is downright offputting and, in my view, immoral. Freedom of contract, that is the fact the employee agrees without coercion to such proposed terms (but while being engineered into thinking that he's getting a good offer, while everyone at the company is commanded to shut up about his earnings), does not in my opinion deal away with this problem and make such actions fair. There is a reason why some companies use tariffs.

If you have something like, "employee will keep confidential all information pertaining to the terms and conditions of his employment," in your contract, then it may be construed to bind you to silence about your salary even among your coworkers (although the first object of that kind of a clause is the business competition of the employer's).

This said, some people get paid really according to their talents and/or how much money they bring into the company's coffers, which may be more than the other employees at the same tier do. Thus justifiably will that person earn more. The person will possibly be on a faster track for promotion too, but not necessarily so, because, for example, a superb salesman can earn more sales than his own manager in direct action but be unable to manage a team (e.g. great skills, poor leadership) and there might be some person who has poor substantive skills, but great leadership and administrative skills, not necessarily making him a bad material for a boss. So sometimes those "unequal" salary/promotion decisions are actually reasonable, even positively wise.

What's more, we generally have little reason to complain, if we're getting treated fairly, just because someone is treated better who doesn't seem to be deserving. First, *our *treatment is fair. Second, the boss has more info, he's the one responsible or possibly the owner (or appointed by the owner), it's his good or bad decisions that he needs to make, it's his problem, not ours (we have no claim on the position or salary, let alone the company itself).

In your case, I believe you should tell them you didn't know they would find it disagreeable, you won't do it again if they tell you not to. I'm not sure about apologising.

If anyone starts insulting you or shouting, tell them to stop. If they tell you committed a major ethics violation, it's up to you what you do at that point, although I would debate the ethical nature of the rule (and I would get fired). You could probably tell them no one told you about it or showed you any written policy, so you didn't know and it's not something that a newbie will know instinctly.

No matter what they try to tell you, shutting up about your salary is not some fundamental constitutional and natural obligation that every human should be aware of from birth.

Just my thoughts on the matter. It's probably worth noting that employers deserve respect (and obedience--within the contract) pretty much the same way parents or legitimate authorities do (although not to the same extent maybe). Even if they are wrong or acting immorally, the matter must be handled with respect (which doesn't mean objections can't be raised).


#12

Well, I looked through the handbook again...it specifically mentions nothing about salary except when and how we'll be paid. I'll have to take a look at it again this weekend and see if it can be connected to any other policies.


#13

Anything under the header of confidentiality and especially your terms of employment etc. (salary might not be mentioned individually). Your very contract may have a section saying that the conditions of your employment are confidential. If there’s no contractual provision and no written policy anywhere (unless you could reasonably be expected not to be familiair with, e.g. because you’re new, it’s long and doesn’t circulate), then the most they can accuse you of is a bad judgement call and then it’s weaker still if you were talking privately outside of work (I’m talking about how bad they can make it look in terms of ethics/conduct, not directly about what your legal situation may look like).

Don’t admit to anything you didn’t do (including *labels *on what you did, such as “gross ethical violation” etc.), don’t sign anything (at all, even if they say you have to sign or will be fired if you don’t), don’t allow anyone to scare or intimidate or guilt-trip you (I mean don’t allow him to make you feel like that inside, not that you should openly defy), and keep a sense of proportion and don’t believe anyone saying you’re somehow responsible financially for anything.

Most likely they will just give you a warning and it looks like they’re going to be able to handle it maturely, from the way they acted. They will understand you’re new or you can politely remind them. If anyone actually shouts at you or uses insulting language, tell him to stop. Don’t be mouthy. Just as you can’t see how it could be an ethical violation, those people may be unable to see how it couldn’t. Happens frequently at the CAF, doesn’t it? :wink: A job isn’t worth being shouted at, scolded or brainwashed (with someone else’s ethics), but it’s worth putting up with some smaller stuff.


#14

Thanks everyone. The meeting went okay as uncomfortable as I expected but no one said anything besides explaining that they lost someone (the coworker was suppose to be at the meeting).

I still have to go to work though. Do I have any kind of responsibility to do the work that the coworker should be doing permanently since I said okay to being her sub? I still have to do my job.


#15

For That_Name or anyone else who knows the answer...it says on your post papist...what does that mean?


#16

[quote="Phemie, post:10, topic:182275"]
She pointed to a co-worker and said "She's been here 6 years and you've started at a higher salary than she's making." That's when I first understood why unions can be important.

[/quote]

Wow.

So you thought it would be a good idea even if it meant you started at a much lower salary – even if you were more qualified? My wife is a part time school teacher - she observed how the NEA ensured that the teacher's evaluated as exemplary received the same pay as those evaluated as deficit. Years of service and classes taken determined the pay scale, what you actually did in the classroom wasn’t even considered.

As for sharing salary information, every job I’ve ever worked except the slaughter house kept that information under lock and key. Being the controller in several companies ranging in size from 20 to 200 employees even the most mundane salary and wage information was expected to be kept confidential. Since I always had access to everyone’s salary information (including the owners) I always assumed any “leak” would probably be blamed on me.

I'm glad your meeting went well and you'll learn from this. I know I've made plenty of mistakes in the 19 years since I've graduated from college - some of them I look back on in complete disbelief and wonder if I could ever have been that stupid - and yes I was.


#17

A lot of good information on here for you already. I just wanted to add, don’t feel too bad about this ok? Everyone makes similar mistake when they first start out at a job. Just try to stay out of trouble. Sometimes things happens that are beyond your control.

I mada a big boo boo once when I was around 24 and working as an auditor for a Government Agency. I needed some technical accounting advice, and the I wasn’t getting any information or help from the person within the Agency who was supposed to help me. He was utter trash at his job… so I e-mailed a friend in a similar profession at a private firm. I laid out the problem and gave away no names or specific numbers, just the general scenario. She gave me a fantastic answer and I decided to share it with 5 other coworkers who were experiencing the same problem as me. Apparently one of them ratted me out and told a high level manager who pulled me into his office with the Director of the Agency and said I was in big trouble for breaking confidentiality. ( I personally didn’t think I had done anything wrong, but I kept my mouth shut and listened ). I felt I had been proactive in getting the information and then sharing it. Something that never seemed to happen in Government.

I asked if I was officially being reprimanded… and they said no. I hadn’t actually broken confidentiality, I had just put the Agency in a potentially embrassing situation, if the other accountant at the private firm had spread the news around that our Agency was incompetent was coming to THEM for advice… ect ect… I apologized and moved on.

Stuff happens…

Just be really care about confidentiality… it’s best to be conservative on this area.

Don’t feel too bad about it though. I feel worse for the coworker who wasn’t getting paid nearly what they thought they should.


#18

[quote="Sina, post:17, topic:182275"]
A lot of good information on here for you already. I just wanted to add, don't feel too bad about this ok? Everyone makes similar mistake when they first start out at a job. Just try to stay out of trouble. Sometimes things happens that are beyond your control.

I mada a big boo boo once when I was around 24 and working as an auditor for a Government Agency. I needed some technical accounting advice, and the I wasn't getting any information or help from the person within the Agency who was supposed to help me. He was utter trash at his job... so I e-mailed a friend in a similar profession at a private firm. I laid out the problem and gave away no names or specific numbers, just the general scenario. She gave me a fantastic answer and I decided to share it with 5 other coworkers who were experiencing the same problem as me. Apparently one of them ratted me out and told a high level manager who pulled me into his office with the Director of the Agency and said I was in big trouble for breaking confidentiality. ( I personally didn't think I had done anything wrong, but I kept my mouth shut and listened ). I felt I had been proactive in getting the information and then sharing it. Something that never seemed to happen in Government.

I asked if I was officially being reprimanded.. and they said no. I hadn't actually broken confidentiality, I had just put the Agency in a potentially embrassing situation, if the other accountant at the private firm had spread the news around that our Agency was incompetent was coming to THEM for advice... ect ect... I apologized and moved on.

Stuff happens...

Just be really care about confidentiality... it's best to be conservative on this area.

Don't feel too bad about it though. I feel worse for the coworker who wasn't getting paid nearly what they thought they should.

[/quote]

Wow, Sina...thanks I really needed to hear that...I've been feeling and still do feel extremely guilty...I was so worried last night that I went to bed early and woke up early with a horrible headache from thinking about it as I went to sleep...and I was so scared this morning that I took a pink rosary that was given to me which made me feel better...if you know my background you know I still have some issues with Mary and the rosary so while I have a rosary...I don't really do much with it.


#19

Really though - instead of quitting your co-worker should have just asked for a raise.
There was no reason for your co-worker to mention your name to your boss, they could have just said “I know for a fact that I am making comparatively less money for doing the same job as other co-workers and I would like an x percent raise.” If they were turned down, they could just stay on while they get their resume and references out before quitting - heck they probably could have gotten a sympathetic letter of recomendation from you.
It was actually very rude, unprofessional and immature for them to drag your name into their issues. They could have preserved your anonymity and still gotten their point across to the boss. Look at all the stress this co-worker caused you by being impulsive and having no business discretion.


#20

That’s probably the reason they were making less money. Who knows, the boss might even be glad to not have to deal with that co-worker.


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