Can I sue my employer if I was promised a raise that never happened?

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Can I sue my employer if I was promised a raise that never happened?

I have been working in the research department for the company with two full
time employees and 5 interns in the department. Originally I started working
there as an intern. Couple month in, the head of the department left, second
full time employee got promoted and I was offered his position. I was promised
at that time that I will have a raise in salary without mentioning any specific
amount. 2 month in working, I did not see any changes to my salary, even though
I obviously had much more responsibilities at that time. During the meeting
with the manager, I was told that because we have had an acquisition contract
pending with finra, we can not officially onboard any new employee, but I will
get paid retroactively, once the deal goes through. By December I had a meeting
with my manager, where I pressured him that I would need to see the change in
paystructure, and he said that starting January I will work full time. In
january he have had another meeting with me where he promised that at the
moment, they cant make this adjustment, but I will be paid retroactively for
all this time that I have been working. A couple of month in, the contract with
finra was approved and I sat down with the manager again, where he said that he
will get back to me within next two weeks with an answer to me as well as the
solid answer on what I will be paid. A week after that the manager got fired
for non performance of his duties. Now I had a meeting with the president of
the company who told me that he had no idea of the conversation and he will get
back to me with what could be done here.

Asked on May 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Isthis raise guaranteed by the terms of a union agreement or employment contract? If not, then then as an "at will" worker, your employer is free to set the conditions of your employment much as it sees fit. This includes what wage to pay. Accordngly, ansent some form of legally actionable discrimination, you have no right to a raise (although I hope your company decides that you should get one).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A promised raise is NOT enforceable unless it is contained in an actual written employmet agrement for a specific or set duration (e.g. a one-year, two-year, etc. contract). Otherwise, except as limited or changed by an enforceable written contract, all employment is "employment at will" which means, among other things, that the employer can set or change your compensation at will--which includes going back on a previously promised raise.


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