Worker Applauded For Exposing His Salary In A Company-Wide Email So Coworkers Could Ask For A Raise

We've all been taught to never discuss our pay, but one worker showed exactly what happens when we reject this antiquated taboo.

workers looking defiant with a note asking for a raise Ariya J, Roman Samborskyi, - Yuri A, F8 studio / Shutterstock; Canva Pro

Most of us were taught as kids to never talk about religion, politics or money, and luckily for employers, that makes things much easier on them, because employees not talking about their pay avoids all those pesky salary disputes, right? 

But a story about a worker who decided to do the exact opposite has people online not only applauding, but holding the story up as an example of why we all should talk about our pay more and how it can kind of change everything when we do.


The fact that many employers write clauses into employment contracts forbidding workers from discussing their pay is very telling. What exactly are they so afraid of?

As multiple studies have revealed that pay transparency helps expose and close wage gaps between employees, especially those from marginalized communities, it seems pretty obvious what the underlying goal of telling employees not to talk about their pay really is.

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That's pretty much precisely what ended up happening when one worker blew their company's cover about what he was being paid. And it all began because their bosses wouldn't respond to their request for more pay.

The employee took one for the team by sharing his salary publicly after he resigned to fight back when he was denied a raise.

The original post to the r/antiwork subReddit has since been deleted, but it's a testament to the story's impact that screenshots are still circulating years later. As the post details, it all began when an employee asked for a raise for both himself and his team and the company refused. 

worker shares salary with coworkers before resigning so they could ask for raisesPhoto: @fu-kyouiquit / Twitter


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So he decided to resign and look for work elsewhere. But, of course, that still left his underpaid team in the lurch, so he devised the perfect way to help them out on his way out the door.

The company made what now seems to have been a mistake on their part by announcing that they would not be backfilling the man's position, an HR term for replacing a worker who resigns, is fired or gets promoted.

"His last day he sent out a company-wide email," the Reddit poster wrote. "He listed his exact wage and [said] that now the company had plenty to give us all [raises]."


The man even went so far as to run the numbers for the company. "He even did the math and included it. I fully expect him to be walked out today but it was a standup thing for him to do," the Reddit poster wrote, adding, "I plan on asking for the raise tomorrow and will be asking my teammates to do the same."

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Taboo as it may be, experts say talking about your pay is an important way to keep workplaces fair, especially given widespread wage inequality.

As aptly-named Twitter account @fu-kyouiquit put it, "this is why they don't want you discussing your wages," and many online agreed. One Twitter user even went so far as to say it was every worker's "duty" to be transparent about their pay, saying, "question any disparity, as well as to demand resolution."

That may sound overwrought, especially if you've always been taught to keep mum about money, but some experts say he's absolutely right. One prime example of this is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Congressional legislation passed in 2009 that expands workers' rights to sue employers for discrimination.


The Act is named after Ledbetter herself, a former employee of Goodyear who sued the company when she found out she was being paid drastically less than her male colleagues — but only after a coworker spilled the beans about the discrepancy. It's only by employees talking about pay in the workplace that she even knew she was being underpaid in the first place.



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Experts say transparency like this is a good way to improve pay discrimination problems in workplaces. Speaking to CBS News, Joanna Kim-Brunetti, a chief legal officer at a company that provides salary audits for businesses, said that "opaqueness only drive inequity," because of course it allows companies to keep their secrets.


Not everyone agrees, however. Some experts counter that talking about pay in the workplace cause problems like resentments among employees and disputes over salaries between employees doing the same job but with vastly different levels of experience. But Kim-Brunetti says this is ultimately companies' problem to solve — by simply being transparent about salary ranges in hiring in the first place. 

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z and Millennial workers are much more likely than older professionals to have spoken up about what they make. They are, after all, the workforce that has spent their entire adult lives in economic upheaval and shrinking wages. Here's hoping it ends the taboo of talking about money once and for all, because it'll benefit all of us.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.