What legal recourse can be taken for an employer witholding hours without termination of employment?

I have been employed full-time by a small business for approximately 4 months. About 6 weeks ago, the owner/supervisor began minimizing my hours (down to 6-10 hrs/wk) due to 2employees returning from leave. Then 3-4 weeks ago, my employer began deliberately withholding hours. I have I have not received any hours for a month.  Also, I have a clean work record – no history disciplinary action. Is there any legal recourse available to me (unemployment?) without my employment being terminated? I’d hate to give in to these bullying tactics by resigning from a job that I actually truly enjoy.

Asked on March 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, unless--

1) you have an employement contract, specifying minimum wages or hours, or something like that; or

2) you are being discriminated against in your treatment because of a protected characteristics (e.g. race, sex, religion, disability status, or age over 40)

--your employer has an absolute right to reduce or "withhold" hours--or to suspend or terminate you entirely. Without a contract, you are an employee at will, and that gives the employee essentially complete discretion as to the hours, terms, conditions, compensation, etc., as well as to who works and who doesn't.

If you are not getting any hours, you may be constructively (or effectively) terminated and may be eligible for unemployment. You should probably try to submit a claim on that basis.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.