What to do about a breach of a verbal contract?

At my job I held the position of shipper receiver on afternoon shift. They had to move 2 people from mornings to afternoons, so they asked 2 other forklift operators to go to mornings; they both refused. My supervisor asked me to give up my shipper receiver position and be forklift operator on mornings I said to him, “I will go if my pay will stay the same?” He said, “Don’t worry, your pay will not be touched if you go to mornings”. Now 2 months later the manager wants to drop my pay by $1.50 an hour, even though admitting to knowing what my supervisor told me. Should I accept this? I had a meeting with HR, my Supervisor, and the manager, and basically was told accept the pay cut or quit

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It is not clear that you have a cause of action, unfortunately. First, unless you previously had an employment contract, guarantying your shift, your employer could have moved you from morning to afternoon and/or changed your duties at will, without your consent--it was just asking as a courtesy. Since it could have moved you or changed your duties, you did give any "consideration," or thing of value, in "accepting" the move, and therefore no contract was formed. Also, if the agreement was not to hold  your pay constant for some defined period of time, then it wasn't really an agreement to keep your pay the same, just an unenforceable promise--in the absence of a contract specifying pay for a defined period, an employer may reduce pay at will.  So it could have kept you in your prior position and cut your pay anyway; therefore, you would not have a cause of action.

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