Is it legal for my employer to not pay me my promised hourly rate?

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Is it legal for my employer to not pay me my promised hourly rate?

I have an issue with my current employer. After serving as a paid intern for 3 months I was given a new NY Pay Notice Non-Exempt form detailing my pay increase from $11/hr to 15/hr, which I promptly signed and returned. However, my following paycheck did not reflect my pay increase and I was told that I was not an official project Coordinator but rather a project Coordinator in training. Therefore, I will receive $13/hr and $19.50 overtime pay until another 3 months have passed. Then they will re-evaluate me to see that I am up

to par to be an official project Coordinator. Unfortunately, none of this information was told to me prior to becoming an intern or signing the updated NY Pay Notice form stating that my pay will be $15/hr. Is it legal for them to not pay me the full hourly rate that I signed for?

Asked on August 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. Unless you had an actual written employment contract for a defined or specified period of time, which period has not yet expired (e.g. an unexpired one-year contract), which contract guaranteed you a certain pay, your pay is 100% under the control of your employer under the doctrine of "employment at will" and they may  reduce, change, etc. your pay at any time, without prior notice. The employer sets pay when there is no contract, and they can renege or go back on prior promises.


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