Can my employer refuse to pay me for my vacation time and cut my salary without notice?

I was terminated about 2 weeks ago, from a company of 4, for 17 years. I was a salaried employee making $1260 bi-weekly until 6/30/16 when salary was dropped to $1200 bi-weekly without notice. Was it legal that they cut my salary without notification? Also, I was out on sick leave for about 1 1/2 months, although I was still available by phone to consult with co-workers and had been during this time. FMLA did not apply because of the small size of the company. I had no insurance benefits. I earned and accumulated 160 hours of vacation which is still due. Can they not pay me for vacation?

Asked on August 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, most employment is "at will" unless there exists a union/collective bargaining agreement or employment contract. Accordingly, a company can set the terms of work much as it sees fit and this typically includes salary decreases without notice (so long as it does not affect time already worked). However, under MO law, a business may reduce an employee’s wages so long as the employee is given 30-days advance written notice, although such notice does not apply if an employee is asked to work fewer hours or changes to a different position with different duties. As for a payout regarding your accrued vacation time, in MO, you only have a right to be paid for such time if there is a company policy (usually in the handbook) or a union agreement or employment contract that says workers will be paid their accrued vacation time upon termination. That all having been said, with respect to any of the above, any form of actionable discrimination would be illegal (but nothing that you have stated here would appear to give rise to such a claim).

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