Am I allowed to know how much my predecessor made?

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Am I allowed to know how much my predecessor made?

I took over a position about a year ago from an employee who no longer works for the company. While they didn’t tell me exactly what they were making when they left, they did inform me it was more than a certain amount. That amount is more than what I’m making, but the responsibilities of the job have more than tripled since they left. Am I allowed to ask what the previous employee was making when they left company without any ramifications?

Asked on August 22, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There certainly is no law against asking such a question. However, this doesn't mean that you are entitled to a raise. Therefore, make sure to not demand more money but rather respectfully inquire about your situation in a professional way. The fact is that most employment is "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes when and why to terminate an employee. In fact, a worker can be fired for any reason or nor reason at all, with or without notice. That is unless such action violates the terms of any exisiting employment contract or union/collective bargaining agreement. Also, it must not constitute any form of legally actionable discrimination/retaliation.


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