What to do if I thought what was a raise turned out to be a “clerical” error on behalf of my company?

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What to do if I thought what was a raise turned out to be a “clerical” error on behalf of my company?

When I started I was verbally promised an increase a bump in pay and here I am making worse money than I did when I started but my department has switched hands many. They have yet to even match what my previous employer paid me since I took a pay cut when I started and here I am three years later. It’s been sixteen pay periods and now I owe as much as a student loan to my company. Is there anything I can do?

Asked on November 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employer is free to set and change (including decrease) employee compensation at will if there is no employment contract setting wages or salary.

IF, as your question seems to suggest, you left a previous job based specifically on a representation (promise) made by the new employer that you'd have  a higher salary or get a raise, that promise *may* be enforceable under the theory of "promissory estoppel." Note that a number of different conditions must be met to do so; if you were promised more money prior to starting this job (the promise must have predated changing employment) and the promise was a material, or significant, part of the reason you took the job, then it would be worthwhile consulting with an employment law attorney about the situation in more detail and see if the conditions to enforce the promise exist.


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