I have a letter from my boss stating that i will be paid a salary of at lease 500.00 per week. What if my paychecks arent even close to that?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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I have a letter from my boss stating that i will be paid a salary of at lease 500.00 per week. What if my paychecks arent even close to that?

My boss gave me a signed letter stating that
i will make a salary of at least 500.00 per
week the letter did not state hours that i
needed to work or anything. My paychecks have
been 207, 203, 187. Can i sue him for the
pay that was promised to me before i took the

Asked on April 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Salaries, pay, etc. may be changed at will by employers unless there is a written employment contract *for a definite period* (e.g. a one-year contract) which guarantees or locks-in the salary for that time; therefore, your employer can say they'll pay you X then instead pay you Y.
The above said, you *may* have a legal claim if all of the following criteria were met:
1) The employer promised you something (e.g. a certain salary) to get you to do something (take a job);
2) In order to do that thing (take the job), you'd have to do something significantly detrimenal, such as giving up an existing job or relocating;
3) The employer knew that you'd have to do that detrimental thing (relocate or leave an existing job);
4) Despite knowing that you'd have to do that detrimental thing, the employer still made the promise to induce, or cause you, to take the new job; and
5) It was reasonable for you to rely on the promise--there were no warning signs or reasons to doubt it.
If ALL these criteria were met, you may be able to enforce the promise, or at least get some compensation, in court (by suing) under the theory of "promisssory estoppel." The hurdles for you in trying to make out this claim, however, will be--
a) You must have given up an existing job or relocated; if you were unemployed at the time and didn't move, you did nothing to your detriment;
b) The employer must have known you'd have to give up a job or relocate; 
c) It may be very hard to prove that it was reasonable for you to rely on (or count on) the promise, because a promise to pay you a certain amount for a job which does not even state the hours is not very credible.

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.

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