Salary increase rescinded

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Salary increase rescinded

am an employee at a state institution of education. I am an exempt full-time administrator making 38k and change per year. After the new FLSA rules were announced, my employing institution decided by last month that in order to be in compliance with the new rules, they would bump all current exempt staff (myself included) up to the new threshold of 47k and change. I signed an offer letter that specifically said my salary would be changing to 47k starting next month.Today we were informed that the State Attorney General advised all state institutions to cancel any changes they had planned in response to FLSA, meaning that our salary increases are being rescinded despite the signed offer letter. I have no idea where to begin. I’ve made spending decisions, open enrollment insurance decisions, job application decisions based on the new salary, and now that’s gone poof. I’m technically in a union, though no one really seems to know who to talk to or what they can do if anything. I’ve left a voicemail with a number listed in our employee resources information as our union contact, though I don’t even know if I reached anyone based on the voice mail message. Given that I started work this week with the understanding I was getting a raise effective Thursday, I feel like I have to be quick and careful about how to react to this.

Asked on November 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The problem is, that unless your union contract has something to say on the subject, pay raises can be rescinded at will. Only a written contract guaranties raises or makes promises of raises enforceable. The "letter" you describe signing, unfortunately, most likely does not form an enforceable contract. Contracts require "consideration," or something you give the other side of value, to bind them and make them enforceable. If you were simply going to continue doing your job as is, and were not taking on something new and to your detriment (or valuable to the employer), like transferring to a new location for the raise, working more hours, working a different shift,  traveling for work and spending time away from home, etc. you did not give them anything--any consideration--in exchange for the raise, and so the promise of a raise is not enforceable. Based on what you write, it appears your employer can do this.     


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