It is legal in Texas for an Employer to reduce wages at will?

I was hire 2 yrs ago as a graduate Civil Engineer, to work as a Design Engineer
with in Georgetown TX. My offer was as hourly rate 26.00 and then increase to
26.50. From the beginning I made clear that I did not have my Engineer in
Training License and the employeer did not condition my employment to it or gave
a time limit to obtained. Close to 2 years later my pay was reduce to 20
per/hour the reason ‘The company had to justify to Texas DOT my wages’, even when
prior to my redux they were billing my wages at the higher rate. What are the
laws in Texas for cases like this?, Should I notify Texas DOT?, Am I entitle to
collect unemployment if I quit, since my reduction is more than 20?

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Asked on September 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you had a written employement contract for a set or specific period of time (e.g. a one-year, two-year, five-year, etc.) contract which is unexpired and which guaranteed your pay, your employer may reduce your pay or wages at will. Employment in this country is "employment at will" except to the extent changed by the terms of a contract; part of that is that employers have 100% control over what they pay, and may change it at will, except when a contract specifies pay. So yes, they may change it.
2) You describe a reduction of $6.50/hour, which would be a 24% decrease. It is very unlikely that such a decrease would be considered so large that no reasonable person would continue working after receiving it--especially since your pay is still approximately $40k/year (assuming 40 hours/week); therefore, you would most likely not be considered to have been "constructively terminated," which generally only applies to a change in commuting distance or pay so great no reasonable person would put up with it. Were you to quit, you would most likely not be eligible for unemployment. (Note also that the most you can get for unemployment in your state is, I believe, $465, which is not much more than half of what you can earn full time at $20/hour; even if you were eligible for unemployment, you would be costing yourself over $300/week by quitting.)

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