Am I entitled to back pay if my employer accidentally paid a lower wage than standard?

Today I learned that myself and others with the same job title who earn the same
pay were coded in the system at a lower wage than what it should have been. My
company will fix this mistake so that I will receive the proper wage going
forward. Legally, am I entitled to back pay for the hours worked at the lower
wage?

Asked on April 26, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You would only be entitled to the extra back pay IF you had a written employment contract setting your wage--if you did, then the employer was obligated to pay you at that amount. But without a contract, your wage is whatever the employer said it was--the employer has complete discretion or freedom to set pay when there is no contract, as part of "employment at will" (which is the law of the land). Therefore, if they paid you less than they should have, that pay amount was still legally correct--it was what your employer was paying you. They could voluntarily pay you the difference, but are not required to.


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