Can an employer dock an employees pay without notification?

UPDATED: Apr 11, 2012

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Can an employer dock an employees pay without notification?

I was docked $3 an hour (almost a full days wages) without notification of such a large hit other than looking at my pay stubs. Also, I held a supervisory position for 10 months without an increase in pay for added responsibilities. Does a supervisory position require a higher pay scale?

Asked on April 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An employee's pay may not be docked without prior notice of a reduction, so, for example, the employer could not take money from your paycheck for work you've already done due to, say, poor performance or a violation of company policy. (Your employer is free, however, to terminate you, if you don't have an employment contract guarantying your employement, if you do something to displease it.) Employees must be paid for all work done at the then in-place rate or wage; an employer could, however, reduce your salary going forward--that is, the employer may give you notice that your salary or wage is being reduced and pay you less from the time of notice on. What it cannot due is reduce your pay for work you've already done.

A supervisory position does not require a higher pay scale--it is logical, fair, and good business to pay a supervisor more or his or her increased responsibilities, but the law does not require employers to be logical, fair, or do things which make good business sense. Your employer may promote you or otherwise give you additional duties without providing additional compensation.

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 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.

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