Can an employer reduce wages for work already done?

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Can an employer reduce wages for work already done?

I recently quit my job. When I started working, the owner told me that I would be paid $13/hr I have this in a text message from my employer but no contract However, after I let them know I would be quitting due to unsafe/unclean working conditions they told me that I would only be receiving minimum wage $9.89 for the time I had already worked and not to come in for my final shift. This was after I had worked my next to last shift. According to my boss, my work was terrible and so they would not pay me the promised amount. Is this legal?

Asked on June 13, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Since you had a valid and enforceale agreement with your former employer as to your pay rate (and you did as you undertook work in exchange at an agreed upon wage), then what they did was illegal. This is true even if the agreement was verbal since oral contracts are enforceable. The fact is that wages can be reduced for work not yet performed but cannot be reduced retroactively (i.e. after the work has been done). At this point, you can sue your ex-employer in small claims court or file a wage claim with your state's department of labor.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal. You work for an employer pursuant to an agreement, whether written or oral (unwritten) one, under which you agreed to do work in exchange for a certain wage. If you did your part--i.e. you did the work--the employer is contractually obligaterd to do its part--and pay the amount you had done that work for. While wage may be reduced for future work, work already done must be paid at the wage in effect whn th ework was done. You could sue your employer for the additional money they owe you for the work you did, such as in small claims court on a "pro se" (as your own attorney) basis.
They could tell you to not come in for your allegedly "final" shift: the employer, not employee, determies when and if employees work and may terminate them at any time.


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