Can I collect unemployment if my current employeer cuts my wages by 32 and changes my income from salary to hourly?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I collect unemployment if my current employeer cuts my wages by 32 and changes my income from salary to hourly?

I live in Arizona and do not have a employee contract and therefore are an ‘at
will’ employee. I was given a notice that management feel I am not a good fit
for my current position and while I maintain this position, until a new
employee is hired, they are adjusting my current wages from salary to hourly
and cutting my wages by 32. After my position is filled, they feel I would do
best in another department which would be a training period and a cut in
hours. Can I collect unemployment if I decline this demotion?

Asked on October 16, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You *may* be able to get unemployment, but it is not certain.
First, forget about the salary to hourly change; that is irrelevant. How you are paid (hourly vs. salary) is not only 100% up to the employer but *never* is considered to be grounds to quit and get unemployment. After all, if you earn, say, $52k per year, how does it matter if that's in the form of a $52k salary or getting $25/hour for 40 hours per week?
As to the pay cut: while employers have the right to cut to your pay, a significant-enough pay cut could be considered to be considered to have made your working conditions so outrageous that essentially no one would work there and so you were "constructively"--or effectively fired. But that's a high hurdle to get over: since it is a given that (if you don't have a written employment contract), that employment is "employment at will," it is accepted that you have no right to your current and your employer may reduce it: the reduction must be so great and the resulting pay so low that it's absolutely shocking so as to convince the unemployment agency that you could not be expected to work there anymore. That depends on the context/facts. For example, I used to work in educational publishing. At the time, my company paid junior editors around $40k/year...but other publishers in the same area might pay them only $26k - $30k. If my company had cut someone's pay by 32%, that would still leave them earning the average for their field--that would not be grounds to get unemployment. So you need to look also what you will be earning and how that relates to the job you will be doing in your area, to see if the reduction might be seen as great enough as to constitute constructive termination and let you get unemployment. 
There is, unfortunately, no way to know in advance if you will be able to get unemployment, since it is judged case by case.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption