Can an employer legally refuse to back pay you for hours you worked, that you were supposed to have received a pay raise for?

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Can an employer legally refuse to back pay you for hours you worked, that you were supposed to have received a pay raise for?

I was told at my time of hire that I would receive a raise after my 90 day probation period. I have now worked 450 hours past the date my probationary period was up, have received my review and raise but have not been back paid for the hours I worked that I got paid at a regular rate for. I wondering if by law in CA, am I entitled to retroactive pay of the difference for the 450 hours?

Asked on March 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether this was an unenforceable promise or an unenforceable one. You say that you were told "at the time of your hire" that you would get a raise affter 90 days. If that promise was a factor in you deciding to take the job--particularly if you gave up some other opportunity to do so--then it is probably enforceable; there would be either consideration for it (you taking the job; enforcement under a contract theory) or at least reasonable reliance to your detriment upon it (enforceable under a theory of promissory estoppel). However, if you already had the job and some manager or executive just happened to say this, then it might be an unenforceable promise, since there would be no consideration and no reliance.


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