Can my employer decrease my pay rate without notice?

UPDATED: Feb 18, 2012

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Can my employer decrease my pay rate without notice?

I’m a server and my employer accidentally plugged in $7.25 per hour instead of the usual $2.13 per hour that servers usually get paid. They discovered their error when a banking issue caused everyone’s paycheck to bounce and decreased it with no warning to me.

Asked on February 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, from what you describe, the employer did not "decrease" your rate of pay--it corrected an error, since it appears you were accidentally paid at a higher rate than you should have been. So this is not a pay decrease or cut, but simply a correction of a mistake, and no notice is required for that.

Second, even if it were an actual pay cut (i.e. they were reducing your hourly rate), no notice to you would be required unless you had an employment contract requiring notice or guarantying your rate. Note that in the case of an actual pay cut (or demotion, etc.), it can only take prospective effect--that is, any work you did at your then-in-force rate must be paid at that rate, though future work can be at a new, lower rate.

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 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.

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