Can an owner of a company change the pay rate offered by my supervisor?

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Can an owner of a company change the pay rate offered by my supervisor?

During my interview I was offered by my direct supervisor $13/hour. No wage agreement was signed, and I worked a full pay period under the impression I was making 13/hour. Upon receiving my check I saw my pay rate to be $12/hour. I spoke with the owner of the company and he informed me that no one starts at $13/hour and that the supervisor offered the wrong wage. He said the best he could do was $12.50/hour. I said okay but I wanted written documentation of that conversation and a wage agreement go sign. My check was altered but I never received a written wage agreement or any other documentation to sign.

Asked on December 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have protection under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you are an "at will' worker. This means that your employer can change the conditions of your employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimnation). This inlciudes your rate of pay. That having been said, your pay can only be reduced going forward, not for any work already performed. In other words, a pay rate reduction cannot be retroactive. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the owner of a company can overrule any job terms or conditions or compensation offered by your supervisor: the supervisor works for the owner, and the owner has more power or authority than his supervisor. However, a change may not be made retroatively, or for work already done; it can only be made prospectively, or going forward from when you are told of the change. If you do work for $13/hour, you must be paid at $13/hour until told otherwise. So if you worked one pay period (e.g. two weeks, I assume) at $13/hour before being told you would be paid $12/hour or $12.50/hour, you should have been paid for that first period at $13/hour.
Of course, while in theory you could sue for the extra money, even if you worked 80 hours at $13.00/hour but were paid at $12.00/hour, that's only $80 you could sue for (the extra $1.00/hour x 80 hours)--not worth suing for.
They do not have to give you a written wage agreement or other documentation: the law does not require that.


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