Can an employer hire you at an hourly rate and just change it?

I was hired by Wal-Mart in March of
this year for a Pharmacy Tech position
at 13/hr and they just recently
decreased my pay and changed my
position temporarily to pharmacy tech
in training’ until I pass the test to
become tech this was due to HR error
BUT that is what I accepted the
position as I wouldn’t have left my
job to commute here for this. They told
me that rate. I already couldn’t
affordthat amount and NOW it’s even
less Please tell me what I can do from
here… It’s just not right.Thank
you.Melissa

Asked on May 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Generally, an employer may change employee pay at will, such as to decrease it, unless the employee has a written employment contract setting his or rate; without a contract, he or she is an "employee at will" and not only may employees at will be terminated at will (no job security), but the employer may make any changes to the job.
You write, however, that you left an existing job based on the promised rate. Sometimes, even without a contract, if--
* Someone asked you to do something or made you an offer, like a new job;
* To take the job, you'd have to do something to your detriment, like leaving an existing job;
* They--and this is critical--knew or logically must have known you'd have to leave an existing job to take their offer;
* Knowing you'd have to leave your existing job to take their offer, they promised you a certain wage or rate, to get you to take their job; and
* It was reasonble for you to rely on their promise (no warning signs it wasn't true)
--then in that case, you may be able to enforce the promise in court, under the theory of "promissory estoppel." Because you did leave an exsting job for this job, it is possible that you could hold them to their promise and/or get monetary compensation for them now breaking their promise. Be warned that it is often an uphill battle to win under the theory of promissory estoppel in employment cases, since it goes against the basic notion of employment at will, but it may give you a chance.


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