Can a Temp service reduce your pay rate to minimum wage for the last week worked if an employee accepts a full time job elsewhere without giving 48 hours notice?

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Can a Temp service reduce your pay rate to minimum wage for the last week worked if an employee accepts a full time job elsewhere without giving 48 hours notice?

I worked for Onin Staffing in Greeneville Tennessee for two weeks at 10.50
per hour. The first week I worked 30 hours and was paid 10.50 an hour. The
second week, I worked 40 hours, but was only paid 7.25 an hour. I asked why
my pay was cut and was told it was because I quit without notice, I
reminded them that I had called their office on Monday morning and told
them I had been offered a full time position at a local pharmacy, and would
be unable to keep the temp job. Now they say they cut my pay because they
felt I should have given 48 hours notice. I told them that I would not get
the full time position unless I could start on Monday. She said I should
have given them notice anyway. Can they legally reduce my pay as punishment
for accepting another job?

Asked on November 2, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

They can make the change at will from when they tell you about forward for any reason (unless you had a contract guarantying or locking in your pay; if you did, they have to follow its terms), but they cannot make a retroactive change, or reduce your pay for work aleady done before they told you of the reduction.
Examples:
1) They tell you Monday as you walk in the door that your pay is being reduced; all work you do from that moment forward is legally at the lower rate.
2) They tell you Friday as you're leaving (or next Tuesday, when you get your paystub) that they were paying you less for the week you just worked. That is illegal, because you did the work pursuant to an understanding as to what you were being paid; after you did your part (did the work), they cannot legally retroactively reduce what you had agreed to work for and had in fact worked for.
In case 2), you could sue for the money--that's the only real way to get it. You'd sue for the difference in pay: e.g. for an extra $3.25/hour for however many hours you worked. Whether as practical matter it's worth suing, even in small claims court, for that amount is a different story.


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