Can an employer change the terms of salary if I have a written contract for 1 year?

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Can an employer change the terms of salary if I have a written contract for 1 year?

I was guaranteed a salary for 1 year when I was hired with my current employer. I have this in writing as part of my hire package. They approached me on Friday saying that they cannot agree to those terms due to the company having finacial issues at this time. They told me that I would have to take a

$1800 a month cut in pay. They said that they would like to keep me on board, however if I had to leave that they would understand. They wanted to cut my pay immediately but I asked if they could give me 2 weeks to work out my financial situation.

Asked on January 29, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If an employment contract was signed by you, clearly they cannot now change its terms: in that case, there is an executed contract and both parties are obligated to its terms.
However, if they offered you the contract and you did not sign it promptly, they may be able to rescind the offer: offers do not stay open indefinitely. (Much will depend on how long you have been waiting to sign; the longer, the more likely they can rescind.) Or if you countered with *any* changes to the offer, they could definitely rescind it: countering extinguishes the offer and sends a new offer to the other side. So if you countered before accepting the contract offered to you, they could certainly rescind.
It may also be the case that what you consider a contract is not a contract: if you accepted the job *before* being told in writing what the salary was, then there was no contract for the salary because you did not give them any "consideration," or anything of value, in exchange for the salary guaranty: you were already working for them, so they did not have to offer you anything to get you to work, and you offered the nothing more than what they already had for the salary.
If there was an enforceble contract (the first case above), you could sue to enforce it in court, if necessary.


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