Whata re my rights if I was cut half salary by my company to help with a hurricane?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Whata re my rights if I was cut half salary by my company to help with a hurricane?

There were 6 of us motorcoach operators who were sent to Houston by our company to transport the utility workers on a daily basis to and from their hotels. We were told we would be making $180 per day. When we figured the figue it turned out to be minimum wage $7.50 per hour 24/7. We were there for a week. During other hurricanes this same company has cut the drivers down from $20 24/7 to $12.50 per hour. They get free fuel and $1,800 to $2,000 per day weather the bus moves or not. This particular company has 20 busses on their fleet. We have to run towards a storm, when all others are fleeing, plus we endure long nights sleeping in the bus when there are no hotels to be had.

Asked on September 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, unfair or unethical does not equal illegal. If you don't have written employment contracts guarantying your wage/salary, your company can change or reduce it at will. If you were being paid at least minimum, the company was complying with the law and there is nothing you can do about it: their obligation is to pay minimum wage and does not have to pay for fuel, for rooms, etc.
The above said, they do need to pay your overtime, or time-and-a-half--when you actualy *work* (not just wait or be on call or be away from home) more than 40 hours in a week. But the overtime is based on actual hours worked. So say that you actually worked 60 hours per week at minimum wage: that would be base pay of 60 x $7.50, or $450.00, plus an overtime premium for 20 hours or another 20 x 1/2 (since overtime gives you another 50% of your wage) x $7.50, or another $75.00. So in this example, working 60 hours per week would only require a minimum pay of $525/week. If you are being paid $180 per day or between $900 (5 work days) and $1,260 (7 work days), they are very likely complying with their legal obligations.  

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