Can an employer punish an employee by delaying the wage increase corresponding to a promotion they have been given?

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Can an employer punish an employee by delaying the wage increase corresponding to a promotion they have been given?

In this situation the employee works an entry level food service job and has been promoted to the position of “Closer”. This position entails new tasks and responsibilities that other employees who do not close do not have. In accepting this position the employee was promised a 45 cent raise to his hourly wages. A week goes by, training is complete and the employee has begun working this new position regularly. However, do to a small infraction/misunderstanding the manager decides to delay the raise associated with the position by an arbitrary 2 weeks. Is this legal?

Asked on August 23, 2011 Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if you don't have an employment contract guarantying the terms of your employment, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be terminated (fired) at will by the employer--at any time, for any reason. And similarly, steps short of termination can be taken by the employer at will, too--so, for example, the employer could demote, transfer, change the hours, shifts, or duties, or reduce the pay of the employee at will. Employees at will have almost no protections at work; so if a person is an employee at will, then the employer may reduce his or her pay for a two week period--or indeed, reduce it permanently, or suspend the employee, or even fire him or her, due to an infraction or for any reason whatsoever.


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