Salary question

A few months ago, I applied for a new job. The job posting listed the salary at $42,500 per year. I still have the original posting. I was called for an interview, and offered the position. The salary of $42,500 was again confirmed by HR via phone. However, when I received my first paycheck I was paid less than I was supposed to be, $38,000 a year. I asked HR via email and they replied saying my rate of pay would be $42,500 after the COLA living allowance was approved. The COLA was approved last week and I was told by my Executive Director that I would be making the new rate of what HR told me, $42,500. When I received my pay voucher today, they now have me at the rate of $39,000. I have an email from HR saying that I should be getting paid $42,500. Is this illegal? Can they do that or are they required now to pay me what they told me?

Asked on September 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Did you have an employment contract that set the salary you were to receive? Was there a union or collective bagaining agreement that afford you protection against this situation. If not, then you are an "at will" employee which means that your company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit, including who does or doesn't get a raise, even if promised. For your part, you can either accept the situation, complain (again) and risk termination, or quit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, unless you had an actual written employment contract setting or guarantying your salary, your employer is free to set or change--or to not change, as the case may be; i.e. to not give you a raise--at will, regardless of what they promissed you earlier. Without a contract, all employment is "employment at will"; among other things, that means the the employer has total "at will" discretion over salary or wages.

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