Can an employer change a worker’s salary and title after their acceptance of a job? offer?

I was recently extended an enhanced role with my current employer and was verbally offered a pay increase and specific job title. These are the grounds upon which I accepted the offer. After settling into the new role, upon review of my pay statement and HR profile. I noticed that the title and pay was less than what I was offered and accepted, without any notification from the employer. Is this worthy of pursuing arbitration or legal case?

Asked on July 23, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Actually and unfortunately, this is legal. The fact is that absent a union agreement or employment contract (and a mere offer does not qualify), you are an "at will" worker. This means that your company can impose the conditions of your employment much as it sees fit (notwithstanding some form of legally actionable discrimination). This includes setting your job title and salary. At this point, your only recourse is to accept the situation, complain but risk termination, or quit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can do this unless your salary and title were locked in or guaranted by a written employment contract for a set or defined period of time (e.g. a one-year contract), which contract was still in effect. Otherwise, except as changed by such a written employment contract, all employment is "employment at will" and the employer may change title, duties, location, shift/hours, pay, and other compensation at will--at any time, for any reason, regardless of what the employer had previously said or promised.

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