Can an employer drop pay for already worked hours?

My girlfriend was a manager at Mcdonald’s. She quit a few weeks ago and today we went to pick up her last check, when we got there they had reduced the pay on the check to $8.30/hr but when she was working during that pay-period she was making $12/hr. It was presented to us that her pay had been dropped for quitting without notice. Where we live is obviously an

Asked on October 17, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Absent an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, wages may be reduced at will but only for work not yet performed. A pay reduction cannot be made retroactively. Any decrease made after the fact is illegal. Your girlfriend can sue her employer for wages owed in small claims court or file a wage calim with your state's deparment of labor.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, they can't do this. Employee pay may be reduced at will (if there is no contract guarantying it) *from the announcment of the reduction forward*. However, the change is only effective from when it is announced onward. Prior to the announcment, all work is done at the then-in-effect rate: the rate the employee understood and agreed she was working. Your girlfriend can sue for the money taken from her; suing in small claims court, as her own attorney ("pro se") is a fast, cost-effective option.

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