Is variable pay legal when you never receive your actual pay rate?

I work as an auto technician and my company pays on a variable pay rate. However, I have yet to actually receive my promise rate. My base rate is $21/hour. My last 2 checks were

$20.8210 and $20.2739 per hour. Other employees have seen variations of 2 per hour different. My last check at $20.2739/hour for $45.75 hours was $33.22 less before taxes than what I was told I would be paid $45.75 hours should have been $960.75, yet I received

$927.53. My dealer is part of a large company of many manufacturers and one of them told the company that they could not pay their technicians in such a way. Is this legal when you are told,

Asked on May 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Variable pay is legal IF you are told in advance what it will be: e.g. $15/hour for M - F work, but $20/hour for Sat. and Sun., or $20/hour for working on domestic cars, but $25/hour for foreign, or indeed, any other variation the employer wants. The key is, you have to know about it in advance, because you work according to an agreement to be paid a certain amount: they can't retroactively change the agreement after you did the work; doing so is a breach of contract.
You could try reporting this to the state department of labor. They help with many wage disputes and may help you with this one. If they don't, you could sue, such as in small claims court (e.g. as your own attorney, or "pro se," to save on legal fees), for the difference in pay.
Suing your employer is obviously a drastic step, as is filing a wage complaint. Try working this out amicably first. Discuss with your employer: this could be as simple as human error in the payroll department or human resources, and it's possible it will be corrected if you bring it to the correct persons attention.

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