Gym Workers Post Wages in Viral Retort to Manager Who Banned Discussing Pay

ByMary K. Thomas

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Employees at a Planet Fitness gym in Kentucky have issued a scathing retort to a manager who allegedly threatened to punish them for discussing their pay.

Last week, Newsweek covered a viral flyer attributed to the manager identified as Jer. “Effective immediately, conversing about wages (both on duty and off duty) is strictly forbidden,” said the note leaked by a customer service representative named Erick at the gym in Frankfort, Kentucky. Jer went on to threaten employees who were “overheard speaking (OR LISTENING TO!!) a conversation in which wages are discussed” with “disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Online readers were incensed by the flyer, which Erick posted on Reddit’s “Antiwork” forum. Many pointed out that Jer was violating the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right of employees to communicate about their pay. Yesterday, the captive audience to this workplace battle finally got what they wanted: a fiery retort from the workers themselves.

The response was a new flyer, which Erick captured and posted as an update on “Antiwork.” The image has garnered over 40,000 votes since it was shared on Sunday.

“Yo Jer-Bear,” began the snarky response. “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.”

Gym Workers Post Wages in Viral Retort
Employees at a Planet Fitness gym in Kentucky have issued a scathing retort to a manager who allegedly threatened to punish them for discussing their pay. Here, a Planet Fitness gym in Alhambra, California.

The poster pointed out three links to a National Labor Relations Board web page detailing workers’ rights to discuss their wages.

“Needless to say, you can’t legally tell us not to discuss wages in the good ol’ U.S. of A,” the note added. “We will continue to do so. Furthermore, for the sake of making this a little more streamlined, shall we?”

Below were the names of 17 employees listed next to their hourly wages. The flyer was dotted with anarcho-communist symbols and signed, “$10.50 an hour Shelly.”

Erick explained that his coworker Shelly hung the sign up over the weekend and had yet to face disciplinary action, although her flyer was taken down. Other members of their team were supportive of the move and thought it was “hilarious,” Erick said, with quite a few adding their names and salaries—including himself.

Readers were thrilled by Shelly’s bravery.

“I LOVE $10.50 an hour Shelly!” one comment exclaimed. “Long Live Shelly. I hope she is $25.00 an hour Shelly very very soon.”

Another reader added, “I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of SHELLY SHELLY!”

In recent months, a growing number of states and localities have passed pay transparency laws to combat the secrecy around salaries in many work environments. A law passed in New York City requires employers to include salary ranges in their job postings starting May 15, 2022.

Newsweek reached out to Erick for comment.


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